FROM THE ACCESSION OF JAMES I. TILL THE DEATH OF CROMWELL.
JAMES I.—FLIGHT OF THE EARLS—CONFISCATION OF ULSTER— PENAL LAWS—PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION.
James the Sixth of Scotland was in his 37th year when he ascended the throne under the title of “James the First, King of Great Britain and Ireland.” His accession naturally excited the most hopeful expectations of good government in the breasts of the Irish Catholics. He was son of Mary Queen of Scots, whom they looked upon as a martyr to her religion, and grandson of that gallant King James who styled himself “Defender of the Faith,” and “Dominus Hiberniae” in introducing the first Jesuits to the Ulster Princes. His ancestors had always been in alliance with the Irish, and the antiquaries of that nation loved to trace their descent from the Scoto-Irish chiefs who first colonized Argyle, and were for ages crowned at Scone. He himself was known to have assisted the late Catholic struggle as effectually, though less openly than the King of Spain, and it is certain that he had employed Catholic agents, like Lord Home and Sir James Lindsay, to excite an interest in his succession among the Catholics, both in the British Islands and on the Continent.
The first acts of the new sovereign were calculated to confirm the expectations of Catholic liberty thus entertained. He was anxious to make an immediate and lasting peace with Spain; refused to receive a special embassy from the Hollanders; his ambassador at Paris was known to be on terms of intimacy with the Pope’s Nuncio; and although personally he assumed the tone of an Anglican Churchman, on crossing the border he had invited leading Catholics to his Court, and conferred the honour of Knighthood on some of their number. The imprudent demonstrations in the Irish towns were easily quieted, and no immediate notice was taken of their leaders. In May, 1603, Mountjoy, on whom James had conferred the higher rank of Lord Lieutenant, leaving Carew as Lord Deputy, proceeded to England, accompanied by O’Neil, Roderick O’Donnell, Maguire, and other Irish gentlemen. The veteran Tyrone, now past threescore, though hooted by the London rabble, was graciously received in that court, with which he had been familiar forty years before. He was at once confirmed in his title, the Earldom of Tyrconnell was created for O’Donnell, and the Lordship of Enniskillen for Maguire. Mountjoy, created Earl of Devonshire, retained the title of Lord Lieutenant, with permission to reside in England, and was rewarded by the appointment of Master of the Ordnance and Warden of the New Forest, with an ample pension from the Crown to him and his heirs for ever, the grant of the county of Lecale (Down), and the estate of Kingston Hall, in Dorsetshire, He survived but three short years to enjoy all these riches and honours; at the age of 44, wasted with dissipation and domestic troubles, he passed to his final account.
The necessity of conciliating the Catholic party in England, of maintaining peace in Ireland, and prosecuting the Spanish negotiations, not less, perhaps, than his own original bias, led James to deal favourably with the Catholics at first. But having attempted to enforce the new Anglican Canons, adopted in 1604, against the Puritans, that party retaliated by raising against him the cry of favouring the Papists. This cry alarmed the King, who had always before his eyes the fear of Presbyterianism, and he accordingly made a speech in the Star Chamber, declaring his utter detestation of Popery, and published a proclamation banishing all Catholic missionaries from the country. All magistrates were instructed to enforce the penal laws with rigour, and an elaborate spy system for the discovery of concealed recusants was set on foot. This reign of treachery and terror drove a few desperate men into the gunpowder plot of the following year, and rendered it difficult, if not impossible, for the King to return to the policy of toleration, with which, to do him justice, he seems to have set out from Scotland.
Carew, President of Munster during the late war, became Deputy to Mountjoy on his departure for England. He was succeeded in October, 1604, by Sir Arthur Chichester, who, with the exception of occasional absences at Court, continued in office for a period of eleven years. This nobleman, a native of England, furnishes, in many points, a parallel to his cotemporary and friend, Robert Boyle, Earl of Cork. The object of his life was to found and to endow the Donegal peerage out of the spoils of Ulster, as richly as Boyle endowed his earldom out of the confiscation of Munster. Both were Puritans rather than Churchmen, in their religious opinions; Chichester, a pupil of the celebrated Cartwright, and a favourer all his life of the congregational clergy in Ulster. But they carried their repugnance to the interference of the civil magistrate in matters of conscience so discreetly as to satisfy the high church notions both of James and Elizabeth. For the violence they were thus compelled to exercise against themselves, they seem to have found relief in bitter and continuous persecution of others. Boyle, as the leading spirit in the government of Munster, as Lord Treasurer, and occasionally as Lord Justice, had ample opportunities, during his long career of forty years, to indulge at once his avarice and his bigotry; and no situation was ever more favourable than Chichester’s for a proconsul, eager to enrich himself at the expense of a subjugated Province.
In the projected work of the reduction of the whole country to the laws and customs of England, it is instructive to observe that a Parliament was not called in the first place. The reformers proceeded by proclamations, letters patent, and orders in council, not by legislation. The whole island was divided into 32 counties and 6 judicial circuits, all of which were visited by Justices in the second or third year of this reign, and afterwards semi-annually. On the Northern Circuit Sir Edward Pelham and Sir John Davis were accompanied by the Deputy in person, with a numerous retinue. In some places the towns were so wasted by the late war, pestilence, and famine, that the Viceregal party were obliged to camp out in the fields, and to carry with them their own provisions. The Courts were held in ruined castles and deserted monasteries; Irish interpreters were at every step found necessary; sheriffs were installed in Tyrone and Tyrconnell for the first time; all lawyers appearing in court and all justices of the peace were tendered the oath of supremacy—the refusal of which necessarily excluded Catholics both from the bench and the bar. An enormous amount of litigation as to the law of real property was created by a judgment of the Court of King’s Bench at Dublin, in 1605, by which the ancient Irish customs, of tanistry and gavelkind, were declared null and void, and the entire Feudal system, with its rights of primogeniture, hereditary succession, entail, and vassalage, was held to exist in as full force in England. Very evidently this decision was not less a violation of the articles of Mellifont than was the King’s proclamation against freedom of conscience issued about the same tune.
Sir John Davis, who has left us two very interesting tracts on Irish affairs, speaking of the new legal regulations of which he was one of the principal superintendents, observes that the old-fashioned allowances to be found so often in the Pipe-Rolls, pro guidagio et spiagio, into the interior, may well be spared thereafter, since “the under sheriffs and bailiffs errant are better guides and spies in time of peace than they were found in tune of war.” He adds, what we may very well believe, that the Earl of Tyrone complained he had so many eyes upon him, that he could not drink a cup of sack without the government being advertised of it within a few hours afterwards. This system of social espionage, so repugnant to all the habits of the Celtic family, was not the only mode of annoyance resorted to against the veteran chief. Every former dependent who could be induced to dispute his claims as a landlord, under the new relations established by the late decision, was sure of a judgment in his favour. Disputes about boundaries with O’Cane, about the commutation of chieftain-rents into tenantry, about church lands claimed by Montgomery, Protestant Bishop of Derry, were almost invariably decided against him. Harassed by these proceedings, and all uncertain of the future, O’Neil listened willingly to the treacherous suggestion of St. Lawrence and Lord Howth, that the leading Catholics of the Pale, and those of Ulster, should endeavour to form another confederation. The execution of Father Garnet, Provincial of the Jesuits in England, the heavy fines inflicted on Lords Stourton, Mordaunt, and Montague, and the new oath of allegiance, framed by Archbishop Abbott, and sanctioned by the English Parliament—all events of the year 1606—were calculated to inspire the Irish Catholics with desperate councils. A dutiful remonstrance against the Act of Uniformity the previous year had been signed by the principal Anglo-Irish Catholics for transmission to the King, but their delegates were seized and imprisoned in the Castle, while their principal agent, Sir Patrick Barnwell, was sent to London and confined in the Tower. A meeting, at Lord Howth’s suggestion, was held about Christmas, 1606, at the Castle of Maynooth, then in possession of the dowager Countess of Kildare, one of whose daughters was married to Christopher Nugent, Baron of Delvin, and her granddaughter to Rory, Earl of Tyrconnell. There were present O’Neil, O’Donnell, and O’Cane, on the one part, and Lords Delvin and Howth on the other. The precise result of this conference, disguised under the pretext of a Christmas party, was never made known, but the fact that it had been held, and that the parties present had entertained the project of another confederacy for the defence of the Catholic religion, was mysteriously communicated in an anonymous letter, directed to Sir William Usher, Clerk of the Council, which was dropped in the Council Chamber of Dublin Castle, in March, 1607. This letter, it is now generally believed, was written by Lord Howth, who was thought to have been employed by Secretary Cecil, to entrap the northern Earls, in order to betray them. In May, O’Neil and O’Donnell were cited to attend the Lord Deputy in Dublin, but the charges were for the time kept in abeyance, and they were ordered to appear in London before the feast of Michaelmas. Early in September O’Neil was with Chichester at Slane, in Meath, when he received a letter from Maguire, who had been out of the country, conveying information on which he immediately acted. Taking leave of the Lord Deputy as if to prepare for his journey to London, he made some stay with his old friend, Sir Garrett Moore, at Mellifont, on parting from whose family he tenderly bade farewell to the children and even the servants, and was observed to shed tears. At Dungannon he remained two days, and on the shore of Lough Swilly he joined O’Donnell and others of his connexions. The French ship, in which Maguire had returned, awaited them off Rathmullen, and there they took shipping for France. With O’Neil, in that sorrowful company, were his last countess, Catherine, daughter of Magenniss, his three sons, Hugh, John, and Brian; his nephew, Art, son of Cormac, Rory O’Donnell, Caffar, his brother, Nuala, his sister, who had forsaken her husband Nial Garve, when he forsook his country; the lady Rose O’Doherty, wife of Caffar, and afterwards of Owen Roe O’Neil; Maguire, Owen MacWard, chief bard of Tyrconnell, and several others. “Woe to the heart that meditated, woe to the mind that conceived, woe to the council that decided on the project of that voyage!” exclaimed the Annalists of Donegal, in the next age. Evidently it was the judgment of their immediate successors that the flight of the Earls was a rash and irremediable step for them; but the information on which they acted, if not long since destroyed, has, as yet, never been made public. We can pronounce no judgment as to the wisdom of their conduct, from the incomplete statements at present in our possession.
There remained now few barriers to the wholesale confiscation of Ulster, so long sought by “the Undertakers,” and these were rapidly removed. Sir Cahir O’Doherty, chief of Innishowen, although he had earned his Knighthood while a mere lad, fighting by the side of Dowcra, in an altercation with Sir George Paulett, Governor of Derry, was taunted with conniving at the escape of the Earls, and Paulett in his passion struck him in the face. The youthful chief—he was scarcely one and twenty—was driven almost to madness by this outrage. On the night of the 3rd of May, by a successful stratagem, he got possession of Culmore fort, at the month of Lough Foyle, and before morning dawned had surprised Derry; Paulett, his insulter, he slew with his own hand, most of the garrison were slaughtered, and the town reduced to ashes. Nial Garve O’Donnell, who had been cast off by his old protectors, was charged with sending him supplies and men, and for three months he kept the field, hoping that every gale might bring him assistance from abroad. But those same summer months and foreign climes had already proved fatal to many of the exiles, whose co-operation he invoked. In July, Rory O’Donnell expired at Rome, in August, Maguire died at Genoa, on his way to Spain, and in September, Caffar O’Donnell was laid in the same grave with his brother, on St. Peter’s hill. O’Neil survived his comrades, as he had done his fortunes, and like another Belisarius, blind and old, and a pensioner on the bounty of strangers, he lived on, eight weary years, in Rome. O’Doherty, enclosed in his native peninsula, between the forces of the Marshal Wingfield and Sir Oliver Lambert, Governor of Connaught, fell by a chance shot, at the rock of Doon, in Kilmacrenan. The superfluous traitor, Nial Garve, was, with his sons, sent to London, and imprisoned in the Tower for life. In those dungeons, Cormac, brother of Hugh O’Neil, and O’Cane also languished out their days, victims to the careless or vindictive temper of King James. Sir Arthur Chichester received, soon after these events, a grant of the entire barony of Innishowen, and subsequently a grant of the borough of Dungannon, with 1,300 acres adjoining; Wingfield obtained the district of Fercullan near Dublin, with the title of Viscount Powerscourt; Lambert was soon after made Earl of Cavan, and enriched with the lands of Carig, and other estates in that county.
To justify at once the measures he proposed, as well as to divert from the exiles the sympathies of Europe, King James issued a proclamation bearing date the 5th of November, 1608, giving to the world the English version of the flight of the Earls. The whole of Ulster was then surveyed in a cursory manner by a staff over which presided Sir William Parsons as Surveyor-General. The surveys being completed early in 1609, a royal commission was issued to Chichester, Lambert, St. John, Ridgeway, Moore, Davis, and Parsons, with the Archbishop of Armagh, and the Bishop of Derry, to inquire into the portions forfeited. Before these Commissioners Juries were sworn on each particular case, and these Juries duly found that, in consequence of “the rebellion” of O’Neil, O’Donnell, and O’Doherty, the entire six counties of Ulster, enumerated by baronies and parishes, were forfeited to the Crown. By direction from England the Irish Privy Council submitted a scheme for planting these counties “with colonies of civil men well affected in religion,” which scheme, with several modifications suggested by the English Privy Council, was finally promulgated by the royal legislator under the title of “Orders and Conditions for the Planters.” According to the division thus ordered, upwards of 43,000 acres were claimed and conceded to the Primate and the Protestant Bishops of Ulster; in Tyrone, Derry, and Armagh, Trinity College got 30,000 acres, with six advowsons in each county. The various trading guilds of the city of London—such as the drapers, vintners, cordwainers, drysalters—obtained in the gross 209,800 acres, including the city of Derry, which they rebuilt and fortified, adding London to its ancient name. The grants to individuals were divided into three classes— 2,000, 1,500, and 1,000 acres each. Among the conditions on which these grants were given was this—”that they should not suffer any labourer, that would not take the oath of supremacy,” to dwell upon their lands. But this despotic condition—equivalent to sentence of death on tens of thousands of the native peasantry—was fortunately found impracticable in the execution. Land was little worth without hands to till it; labourers enough could not be obtained from England and Scotland, and the Hamiltons, Stewarts, Folliots, Chichesters, and Lamberts, having, from sheer necessity, to choose between Irish cultivators and letting their new estates lie waste and unprofitable, it is needless to say what choice they made.
The spirit of religious persecution was exhibited not only in the means taken to exterminate the peasantry, to destroy the northern chiefs, and to intimidate the Catholics of “the Pale” by abuse of law, but by many cruel executions. The Prior of the famous retreat of Lough Derg was one of the victims of this persecution; a Priest named O’Loughrane, who had accidentally sailed in the same ship with the Earls to France, was taken prisoner on his return, hanged and quartered. Conor O’Devany, Bishop of Down and Conor, an octogenarian, suffered martyrdom with heroic constancy at Dublin, in 1611. Two years before, John, Lord Burke of Brittas, was executed in like manner on a charge of having participated in the Catholic demonstrations which took place at Limerick on the accession of King James. The edict of 1610 in relation to Catholic children educated abroad has been quoted in a previous chapter, apropos of education, but the scheme submitted by Knox, Bishop of Raphoe, to Chichester in 1611 went even beyond that edict. In this project it was proposed that whoever should be found to harbour a Priest should forfeit all his possessions to the Crown—that quarterly returns should be made out by counties of all who refused to take the oath of supremacy, or to attend the English Church service—that no Papist should be permitted to exercise the function of a schoolmaster; and, moreover, that all churches injured during the late war should be repaired at the expense of the Papist inhabitants for the use of the Anglican congregation.
Very unexpectedly to the nation at large, after a lapse of 27 years, during which no Parliament had been held, writs were issued for the attendance of both Houses, at Dublin, on the 18th of May, 1613. The work of confiscation and plantation had gone on for several years without the sanction of the legislature, and men were at a loss to conceive for what purpose elections were now ordered, unless to invent new penal laws, or to impose fresh burdens on the country. With all the efforts which had been made to introduce civil men, well affected in religion, it was certain that the Catholics would return a large majority of the House of Commons, not only in the chief towns, but from the fifteen old, and seventeen new counties, lately created. To counterbalance this majority, over forty boroughs, returning two members each, were created, by royal charter, in places thinly or not at all inhabited, or where towns were merely projected on the estates of leading “Undertakers.” Against the issue of writs returnable by these fictitious corporations, the Lords Gormanstown, Slane, Killeen, Trimbleston, Dunsany, and Howth, signed an humble remonstrance to the King, concluding with a prayer for the relaxation of the penal laws affecting religion. The King, whose notions of prerogative were extravagantly high, was highly incensed at this petition of the Catholic peers of Leinster, and Chichester proceeded with his full approbation to pack the Parliament. At the elections, however, many “recusant lawyers” and other Catholic candidates were returned, so that when the day of meeting arrived, 101 Catholic representatives assembled at Dublin, some accompanied by bands of from 100 to 200 armed followers. The supporters of the government claimed 125 votes, and six were found to be absent, making the whole number of the House of Commons 232. The Upper House consisted of 50 Peers, of whom there were 25 Protestant Bishops, so that the Deputy was certain of a majority in that chamber, on all points of ecclesiastical legislation, at least. Although, with the facts before us, we cannot agree with Sir John Davis that King James I. gave Ireland her “first free Parliament,” it is impossible not to entertain a high sense of admiration for the constitutional firmness of the recusant or Catholic party in that assembly. At the very outset they successfully resisted the proposition to meet in the Castle, surrounded by the Deputy’s guards, as a silent menace. They next contended that before proceeding to the election of Speaker the Council should submit to the Judges the decision of the alleged invalid elections. A tumultous and protracted debate was had on this point. The Castle party argued that they should first elect a Speaker and then proceed to try the elections; the Catholics contended that there were persons present whose votes would determine the Speakership, but who had no more title in law than the horseboys at the door. This was the preliminary trial of strength. The candidate of the Castle for the Speakership was Sir John Davis; of the Catholics, Sir John Everard, who had resigned his seat on the bench rather than take the oath of supremacy framed by Archbishop Abbott. The Castle party having gone into the lobby to be counted, the Catholics placed Sir John Everard in the Chair. On their return the government supporters placed Sir John Davis in Everard’s lap, and a scene of violent disorder ensued. The House broke up in confusion; the recusants in a body declared their intention not to be present at its deliberations, and the Lord Deputy, finding them resolute, suddenly prorogued the session. Both parties sent deputies to England to lay their complaints at the foot of the throne. The Catholic spokesmen, Talbot and Lutrell, were received with a storm of reproaches, and committed, the former to the Tower, the other to the Fleet Prison. They were, however, released after a brief confinement, and a Commission was issued to inquire into the alleged electoral frauds. By the advice of Everard and others of their leaders, a compromise was effected with the Castle party; members returned for boroughs incorporated after the writs were issued were declared excluded, the contestation of seats on other grounds of irregularity were withdrawn, and the House accordingly proceeded to the business for which they were called together. The chief acts of the sessions of 1614, ’15, and ’16, beside the grant of four entire subsidies to the Crown, were an act joyfully recognizing the King’s title; acts repealing statutes of Elizabeth and Henry VIII., as to distinctions of race; an act repealing the 3 and 4 of Philip and Mary, against “bringing Scots into Ireland,” and the acts of attainder against O’Neil, O’Donnell, and O’Doherty. The recusant minority have been heavily censured by our recent historians for consenting to these attainders. Though the censure may be in part deserved, it is, nevertheless, clear that they had not the power to prevent their passage, even if they had been unanimous in their opposition; but they had influence enough, fortunately, to oblige the government to withdraw a sweeping penal law which it was intended to propose. An Act of oblivion and amnesty was also passed, which was of some advantage. On the whole, both for the constitutional principles which they upheld, and the religious proscription which they resisted, the recusant minority in the Irish Parliament of James I. deserve to be held in honour by all who value religious and civil liberty.
LAST YEARS OF JAMES—CONFISCATION OF THE MIDLAND COUNTIES—ACCESSION OF CHARLES I.—GRIEVANCES AND “GRACES”—ADMINISTRATION OF LORD STRAFFORD.
From the dissolution of James’s only Irish Parliament in October, 1615, until the tenth of Charles I.—an interval of twenty years—the government of the country was again exclusively regulated by arbitrary proclamations and orders in Council. Chichester, after the unusually long term of eleven years, had leave to retire in 1816; he was succeeded by the Lord Grandison, who held the office of Lord Deputy for six years, and he, in turn, by Henry Carey, Viscount Falkland, who governed from 1622 till 1629—seven years. Nothing could well be more fluctuating than the policy pursued at different periods by these Viceroys and their advisers; violent attempts at coercion alternated with the meanest devices to extort money from the oppressed; general declarations against recusants were repeated with increased vehemence, while particular treaties for a local and conditional toleration were notoriously progressing; in a word, the administration of affairs exhibited all the worst vices and weaknesses of a despotism, without any of the steadiness or magnanimity of a really paternal government. Some of the edicts issued deserve particular notice, as characterizing the administrations of Grandison and Falkland.
The municipal authorities of Waterford, having invariably refused to take the oath of supremacy, were, by an order in Council, deprived of their ancient charter, which was withheld from them for nine years. The ten shilling tax on recusants for non-attendance at the Anglican service was rigorously enforced in other cities, and was almost invariably levied with costs, which not seldom swelled the ten shillings to ten pounds. A new instrument of oppression was also, in Lord Grandison’s time, invented—”the Commission for the Discovery of Defective Titles.” At the head of this Commission was placed Sir William Parsons, the Surveyor-General, who had come into the kingdom in a menial situation, and had, through a long half century of guile and cruelty, contributed as much to the destruction of its inhabitants, by the perversion of law, as any armed conqueror could have done by the edge of the sword. Ulster being already applotted, and Munster undergoing the manipulation of the new Earl of Cork, there remained as a field for the Parsons Commission only the Midland Counties and Connaught. Of these they made the most in the shortest space of time. A horde of clerkly spies were employed under the name of “Discoverers,” to ransack old Irish tenures in the archives of Dublin and London, with such good success, that in a very short time 66,000 acres in Wicklow, and 385,000 acres in Leitrim, Longford, the Meaths, and King’s and Queen’s Counties, were “found by inquisition to be vested in the Crown.” The means employed by the Commissioners, in some cases, to elicit such evidence as they required, were of the most revolting description. In the Wicklow case, courts-martial were held, before which unwilling witnesses were tried on the charge of treason, and some actually put to death. Archer, one of the number, had his flesh burned with red hot iron, and was placed on a gridiron over a charcoal fire, till he offered to testify anything that was necessary. Yet on evidence so obtained whole baronies and counties were declared forfeited to the Crown.
The recusants, though suffering under every sort of injustice, and kept in a state of continual apprehension —a condition worse even than the actual horrors they endured—counted many educated and wealthy persons in their ranks, besides mustering fully ninety per cent, of the whole population. They were, therefore, far from being politically powerless. The recall of Lord Grandison from the government was attributed to their direct or indirect influence upon the King. When James Usher, then Bishop of Meath, preached before his successor from the text “He beareth not the sword in vain,” they were sufficiently formidable to compel him publicly to apologise for his violent allusions to their body. Perhaps, however, we should mainly see in the comparative toleration, extended by Lord Falkland, an effect of the diplomacy then going on, for the marriage of Prince Charles to the Infanta of Spain. When, in 1623, Pope Gregory XV. granted a dispensation for this marriage, James solemnly swore to, a private article of the marriage treaty, by which he bound himself to suspend the execution of the Penal laws, to procure their repeal in Parliament, and to grant a toleration of Catholic worship in private houses. But the Spanish match was unexpectedly broken off, immediately after his decease (June, 1625), whereupon Charles married Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henry IV. of France.
The new monarch inherited from his father three kingdoms heaving in the throes of disaffection and rebellion. In England the most formidable of the malcontents were the Puritans, who reckoned many of the first nobility, and the ablest members of the House of Commons among their chiefs; the restoration of episcopacy, and the declaration by the subservient Parliament of Scotland, that no General Assembly should be called without the King’s sanction, had laid the sure foundations of a religious insurrection in the North; while the events, which we have already described, filled the minds of all orders of men in Ireland with agitation and alarm. The marriage of Charles with Henrietta Maria gave a ray of assurance to the co-religionists of the young Queen, for they had not then discovered that it was ever the habit of the Stuarts “to sacrifice their friends to the fear of their enemies.” While he was yet celebrating his nuptials at Whitehall, surrounded by Catholic guests, the House of Commons presented Charles “a pious petition,” praying him to put into force the laws against recusants; a prayer which he was compelled by motives of policy to answer in the affirmative. The magistrates of England received orders accordingly, and when the King of France remonstrated against this flagrant breach of one of the articles of the marriage treaty (the same included in the terms of the Spanish match), Charles answered that he had never looked on the promised toleration as anything but an artifice to secure the Papal dispensation. But the King’s compliance failed to satisfy the Puritan party in the House of Commons, and that same year began their contest with the Crown, which ended only on the scaffold before Whitehall in 1648. Of their twenty-three years’ struggle, except in so far as it enters directly into our narrative, we shall have little to say, beyond reminding the reader, from time to time, that though it occasionally lulled down it was never wholly allayed on either side.
Irish affairs, in the long continued suspension of the functions of Parliament, were administered in general by the Privy Council, and in detail by three special courts, all established in defiance of ancient constitutional usage. These were the Court of Castle Chamber, modelled on the English Star Chamber, and the Ecclesiastical High Commissioners Court, both dating from 1563; and the Court of Wards and Liveries, originally founded by Henry VIII., but lately remodelled by James. The Castle Chamber was composed of certain selected members of the Privy Council acting in secret with absolute power; the High Commission Court was constituted under James and Charles, of the principal Archbishops and Bishops, with the Lord Deputy, Chancellor, Chief Justice, Master of the Rolls, Master of the Wards, and some others, laymen and jurists. They were armed with unlimited power “to visit, reform, redress, order, correct and amend, all such errors, heresies, schisms, abuses, offences, contempts and enormities,” as came under the head of spiritual or ecclesiastical jurisdiction. They were, in effect, the Castle Chamber, acting as a spiritual tribunal of last resort; and were provided with their own officers, Registers and Receivers of Fines, Pursuivants, Criers and Gaolers. The Court of Wards exercised a jurisdiction, if possible, more repugnant to our first notions of liberty than that of the High Commission Court. It retained its original power “to bargain and sell the custody, wardship and marriage,” of all the heirs of such persons of condition as died in the King’s homage; but their powers, by royal letters patent of the year 1617, were to be exercised by a Master of Wards, with an Attorney and Surveyor, all nominated by the Crown. The Court was entitled to farm all the property of its Wards during nonage, for the benefit of the Crown, “taking one year’s rent from heirs male, and two from heirs female,” for charges of stewardship. The first master, Sir William Parsons, was appointed in 1622, and confirmed at the beginning of the next reign, with a salary of 300 pounds per annum, and the right to rank next to the Chief Justice of the King’s Bench at the Privy Council. By this appointment the minor heirs of all the Catholic proprietors were placed, both as to person and property, at the absolute disposal of one of the most intense anti-Catholic bigots that ever appeared on the scene of Irish affairs.
In addition to these civil grievances an order had lately been issued to increase the army in Ireland by 5,000 men, and means of subsistence had to be found for that additional force, within the kingdom. In reply to the murmurs of the inhabitants, they were assured by Lord Falkland that the King was their friend, and that any just and temperate representation of their grievances would secure his careful and instant attention. So encouraged, the leading Catholics convoked a General Assembly of their nobility and gentry, “with several Protestants of rank,” at Dublin, in the year 1628, in order to present a dutiful statement of their complaints to the King. The minutes of this important Assembly, it is to be feared, are for ever lost to us. We only know that it included a large number of landed proprietors, of whom the Catholics were still a very numerous section. “The entire proceedings of this Assembly,” says Dr. Taylor, “were marked by wisdom and moderation. They drew up a number of articles, in the nature of a Bill of Rights, to which they humbly solicited the royal assent, and promised that, on their being granted, they would raise a voluntary assessment of 100,000 pounds for the use of the Crown. The principal articles in these ‘graces,’ as they were called, were provisions for the security of property, the due administration of justice, the prevention of military exactions, the freedom of trade, the better regulation of the clergy, and the restraining of the tyranny of the ecclesiastical courts. Finally, they provided that the Scots, who had been planted in Ulster, should be seemed in their possessions, and a general pardon granted for all offences.” Agents were chosen to repair to England with this petition, and the Assembly, hoping for the best results, adjourned. But the ultra Protestant party had taken the alarm, and convoked a Synod at Dublin to counteract the General Assembly. This Synod vehemently protested against selling truth “as a slave,” and “establishing for a price idolatry in its stead.” They laid it down as a dogma of their faith that “to grant Papists a toleration, or to consent that they may freely exercise their religion and profess their faith and doctrines, was a grievous sin;” wherefore they prayed God “to make those in authority zealous, resolute, and courageous against all Popery, superstition, and idolatry.” This declaration of the extreme Protestants, including not only Usher, and the principal Bishops, but Chichester, Boyle, Parsons, and the most successful “Undertakers,” all deeply imbued with Puritan notions, naturally found among their English brethren advocates and defenders. The King, who had lately, for the third time, renewed with France the articles of his marriage treaty, was placed in a most difficult position. He desired to save his own honour, he sorely needed the money of the Catholics, but he trembled before the compact, well organized fanaticism of the Puritans. In his distress he had recourse to a councillor, who, since the assassination of Buckingham, his first favourite, divided with Laud the royal confidence. This was Thomas, Lord Wentworth, better known by his subsequent title of Earl of Strafford, a statesman born to be the wonder and the bane of three kingdoms. Strafford (for such for clearness we must call him) boldly advised the King to grant “the graces” as his own personal act, to pocket the proposed subsidy, but to contrive that the promised concessions he was to make should never go into effect. This infamous deception was effected in this wise: the King signed, with his own hand, a schedule of fifty-one “graces,” and received from the Irish agents in London bonds for 120,000 pounds, (equal to ten times the amount at present), to be paid in three annual instalments of 40,000 pounds. He also agreed that Parliament should be immediately called in Ireland, to confirm these concessions, while at the same time he secretly instructed Lord Falkland to see that the writs of election were informally prepared, so that no Parliament could be held. This was accordingly done; the agents of the General Assembly paid their first instalment; the subscribers held the King’s autograph; the writs were issued, but on being returned, were found to be technically incorrect, and so the legal confirmation of the graces was indefinitely postponed, under one pretext or another. As evidence of the national demands at this period, we should add, that beside the redress of minor grievances, the articles signed by the King provided that the recusants should be allowed to practise in the courts of law; to sue the livery of their lands out of the Court of Wards, on taking an oath of civil allegiance in lieu of the oath of supremacy; that the claims of the Crown to the forfeiture of estates, under the plea of defects of title, should not be held to extend beyond sixty years anterior to 1628; that the “Undertakers” should have time allowed them to fulfil the conditions of their leases; that the proprietors of Connaught should be allowed to make a new enrollment of their estates, and that a Parliament should be held. A royal proclamation announced these concessions, as existing in the royal intention, but, as we have already related, such promises proved to be worth no more than the paper on which they were written.
In 1629 Lord Falkland, to disarm the Puritan outcry against him, had leave to withdraw, and for four years —an unusually long interregnum—the government was left in the hands of Robert Boyle, now Earl of Cork, and Adam Loftus, Viscount Ely, one of the well dowered offspring of Queen Elizabeth’s Archbishop of Dublin. Ely held the office of Lord Chancellor, and Cork that of Lord High Treasurer; as Justices, they now combined in their own persons almost all the power and patronage of the kingdom. Both affected a Puritan austerity and enthusiasm, which barely cloaked a rapacity and bigotry unequalled in any former administration. In Dublin, on Saint Stephen’s Day, 1629, the Protestant Archbishop, Bulkley, and the Mayor of the city, entered the Carmelite Chapel, at the head of a file of soldiers, dispersed the congregation, desecrated the altar, and arrested the officiating friars. The persecution was then taken up and repeated wherever the executive power was strong enough to defy the popular indignation. A Catholic seminary lately established in the capital was confiscated, and turned over to Trinity College as a training school. Fifteen religious houses, chiefly belonging to the Franciscan Order, which had hitherto escaped from the remoteness of their situation, were, by an order of the English Council, confiscated to the Crown, and their novices compelled to emigrate in order to complete their studies abroad. A reprimand from the King somewhat stayed the fury of the Justices, whose supreme power ended with Stafford’s appointment in 1633.
The advent of Stafford was characteristic of his whole course. The King sent over another letter concerning recusants, declaring that the laws against them, at the suggestion of the Lords Justices, should be put strictly in force. The Justices proved unwilling to enter this letter on the Council book, and it was accordingly withheld till Stafford’s arrival, but the threat had the desired effect of drawing “a voluntary contribution” of 20,000 pounds out of the alarmed Catholics. Equipped partly with this money Stafford arrived in Dublin in July, 1633, and entered at once on the policy, which he himself designated by the one emphatic word—”THOROUGH.” He took up his abode in the Castle, surrounded by a Body Guard, a force hitherto unknown at the Irish Court; he summoned only a select number of the Privy Council, and, having kept them waiting for hours, condescended to address them in a speech full of arrogance and menace. He declared his intention of maintaining and augmenting the army; advised them to amend their grants forthwith; told them frankly he had called them to Council, more out of courtesy than necessity, and ended by requiring from them a year’s subsidy in advance. As this last request was accompanied by a positive promise to obtain the King’s consent to the assembling of Parliament, it was at once granted; and soon after writs were issued for the meeting of both Houses in July following.
When this long-prayed-for Parliament at last met, the Lord Deputy took good care that it should be little else than a tribunal to register his edicts. A great many officers of the army had been chosen as Burgesses, while the Sheriffs of counties were employed to secure the election of members favourable to the demands of the Crown. In the Parliament of 1613 the recusants were, admitting all the returns to be correct, nearly one-half; but in that of 1634 they could not have exceeded one-third. The Lord Deputy nominated their Speaker, whom they did not dare to reject, and treated them invariably with the supreme contempt which no one knows so well how to exhibit towards a popular assembly as an apostate liberal. “Surely,” he said in his speech from the throne, “so great a meanness cannot enter your hearts, as once to suspect his Majesty’s gracious regard of you, and performance with you, once you affix yourselves upon his grace.” His object in this appeal was the sordid and commonplace one—to obtain more money without rendering value for it. He accordingly carried through four whole subsidies of 50,000 pounds sterling each in the session of 1634; and two additional subsidies of the same amount at the opening of the next session. The Parliament, having thus answered his purpose, was summarily dissolved in April, 1635, and for four years more no other was called. During both sessions he had contrived, according to his agreement with the King, to postpone indefinitely the act which was to have confirmed “the graces,” guaranteed in 1628. He even contrived to get a report of a Committee of the House of Commons, and the opinions of some of the Judges, against legislating on the subject at all, which report gave King Charles “a great deal of contentment.”
With sufficient funds in hand for the ordinary expenses of the government, Strafford applied himself earnestly to the self-elected task of making his royal master “as absolute as any King in Christendom” on the Irish side of the channel. The plantation of Connaught, delayed by the late King’s death, and abandoned among the new King’s graces, was resumed as a main engine of obtaining more money. The proprietary of that Province had, in the thirteenth year of the late reign, paid 3,000 pounds into the Record Office at Dublin, for the registration of their deeds, but the entries not being made by the clerk employed, the title to every estate in the five western counties was now called in question. The “Commissioners to Inquire into Defective Titles” were let loose upon the devoted Province, with Sir William Parsons at their head, and the King’s title to the whole of Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon, was found by packed, bribed, or intimidated juries; the grand jury of Galway having refused to find a similar verdict, were summoned to the Court of Castle Chamber, sentenced to pay a fine of 4,000 pounds each to the Crown, and the Sheriff that empanelled them, a fine of 1,000 pounds. The lawyers who pleaded for the actual proprietors were stripped of their gowns, the sheriff died in prison, and the work of spoliation proceeded. The young Earl of Ormond was glad to compound for a portion of his estates; the Earl of Kildare was committed to prison for refusing a similar composition; the Earl of Cork was compelled to pay a heavy fine for his intrusion into lands originally granted to the Church; the O’Byrnes of Wicklow commuted for 15,000 pounds, and the London Companies, for their Derry estates, paid no less than 70,000 pounds: a forced contribution for which those frugal citizens never forgave the thorough-going Deputy. By these means, and others less violent, such as bounties to the linen trade, he raised the annual revenue of the kingdom to 80,000 pounds a year, and was enabled to embody for the King’s service an army of 10,000 foot and 1,000 horse.
These arbitrary measures were entirely in consonance with the wishes of Charles. In a visit to England in 1636, the King assured Strafford personally of his cordial approbation of all he had done, encouraged him to proceed fearlessly in the same course, and conferred on him the higher rank of Lord Lieutenant. Three years later, on the first rumour of a Scottish invasion of England, Strafford was enabled to remit his master 30,000 pounds from the Irish Treasury, and to tender the services of the Anglo-Irish army, as he thought they could be safely dispensed with by the country in which they had been thus far recruited and maintained.
LORD STRAFFORD’S IMPEACHMENT AND EXECUTION—PARLIAMENT OF 1639-’41—THE INSURRECTION OF 1641—THE IRISH ABROAD.
The tragic end of the despot, whose administration we have sketched, was now rapidly approaching. When he deserted the popular ranks in the English House of Commons for a Peerage and the government of Ireland, the fearless Pym prophetically remarked, “Though you have left us, I will not leave you while your head is on your shoulders.” Yet, although conscious of having left able and vigilant enemies behind him in England, Strafford proceeded in his Irish administration as if he scorned to conciliate the feelings or interests of any order of men. By the highest nobility, as well as the humblest of the mechanic class, his will was to be received as law; so that neither in Church, nor in State, might any man express even the most guarded doubt as to its infallibility. Lord Mountnorris, for example, having dropped a casual, and altogether innocent remark at the Chancellor’s table on the private habits of the Deputy, was brought to trial by court martial on a charge of mutiny, and sentenced to military execution. Though he was not actually put to death, he underwent a long and rigorous imprisonment, and at length was liberated without apology or satisfaction. If they were not so fully authenticated, the particulars of this outrageous case would hardly be credible.
The examples of resistance to arbitrary power, which for some years had been shown by both England and Scotland, were not thrown away upon the still worse used Irish. During the seven years of Strafford’s iron rule, Hampden had resisted the collection of ship money, Cromwell had begun to figure in the House of Commons, the Solemn League and Covenant was established in Scotland, and the Scots had twice entered England in arms to seal with their blood, if need were, their opposition to an episcopal establishment of religion. It was in 1640, upon the occasion of their second invasion, that Strafford was recalled from Ireland to assume command of the royal forces in the North of England. After a single indecisive campaign, the King entertained the overtures of the Covenanters, and the memorable Long Parliament having met in November, one of its first acts was the impeachment of Strafford for high crimes and misdemeanors. The chief articles against him related to his administration of Irish affairs, and were sustained by delegates from the Irish House of Commons, sent over for that purpose: the whole of the trial deserves to be closely examined by every one interested in the constitutional history of England and Ireland.
A third Parliament, known as the 14th, 15th and 16th Charles I., met at Dublin on the 20th March, 1639, was prorogued till June, and adjourned till October. Yielding the point so successfully resisted in 1613, its sittings were held in the Castle, surrounded by the viceregal guard. With one exception, the acts passed in its first session were of little importance, relating only to the allotment of glebe lands and the payment of twentieths. The exception, which followed the voting of four entire subsidies to the King, was an Act ordaining “that this Parliament shall not determine by his Majesty’s assent to this and other Bills.” A similar statute had been passed in 1635, but was wholly disregarded by Strafford, who no doubt meant to take precisely the same course in the present instance. The members of this Assembly have been severely condemned by modern writers for passing a high eulogium upon Strafford in their first session and reversing it after his fall. But this censure is not well founded. The eulogium was introduced by the Castle party in the Lords, as part of the preamble to the Supply Bill, which, on being returned to the Commons, could only be rejected in toto, not amended—a proceeding in the last degree revolutionary. But those who dissented from that ingenious device, at the next session of the House, took care to have their protest entered on the journals and a copy of it despatched to the King. This second proceeding took place in February, 1640, and as the Lord Lieutenant was not arraigned till the month of November following, the usual denunciations of the Irish members are altogether undeserved. At no period of his fortune was the Earl more formidable as an enemy than at the very moment the Protest against “his manner of government” was ordered “to be entered among the Ordinances” of the Commons of Ireland. Nor did this Parliament confine itself to mere protestations against the abuses of executive power. At the very opening of the second session, on the 20th of January, they appointed a committee to wait on the King in England, with instructions to solicit a bill in explanation of Poyning’s law, another enabling them to originate bills in Committee of their own House, a right taken away by that law, and to ask the King’s consent to the regulation of the courts of law, the collecting of the revenue, and the quartering of soldiers by statute instead of by Orders in Council. On the 16th of February the House submitted a set of queries to the Judges, the nature of which may be inferred from the first question, viz.: “Whether the subjects of this Kingdom be a free people, and to be governed only by the common law of England, and statutes passed in this Kingdom ?” When the answers received were deemed insufficient, the House itself, turning the queries into the form of resolutions, proceeded to vote on them, one by one, affirming in every point the rights, the liberties, and the privileges of their constituents.
The impeachment and attainder of Strafford occupied the great part of March and April, 1641, and throughout those months the delegates from Ireland assisted at the pleadings in Westminster Hall and the debates in the English Parliament. The Houses at Dublin were themselves occupied in a similar manner. Towards the end of February articles of impeachment were drawn up against the Lord Chancellor, Bolton, Dr. Bramhall, Bishop of Derry, Chief-Justice Lowther, and Sir George Radcliffe, for conspiring with Strafford to subvert the constitution, and laws, and to introduce an arbitrary and tyrannical government. In March, the King’s letter for the continuance of Parliament was laid before the Commons, and on the 3rd of April, his further letter, declaring that all his Majesty’s subjects of Ireland “shall, from henceforth, enjoy the benefit of the said graces [of 1628] according to the true intent thereof.” By the end of May the Judges, not under impeachment, sent in their answers to the Queries of the Commons, which answers were voted insufficient, and Mr. Patrick Darcy, Member for Navan, was appointed to serve as Proculator at a Conference with the Lords, held on the 9th of June, “in the dining-room of the Castle,” in order to set forth the insufficiency of such replies. The learned and elaborate argument of Darcy was ordered to be printed by the House; and on the 26th day of July, previous to their prorogation, they resolved unanimously, that the subjects of Ireland “were a free people, to be governed only by the common law of England, and statutes made and established in the kingdom of Ireland, and according to the lawful custom used in the same.” This was the last act of this memorable session; the great northern insurrection in October having, of course, prevented subsequent sessions from being held. Constitutional agitators in modern times have been apt to select their examples of a wise and patriotic parliamentary conduct from the opposition to the Act of Union and the famous struggles of the last century; but whoever has looked into such records as remain to us of the 15th and 16th of Charles First, and the debates on the impeachment of Lord Chancellor Bolton, will, in my opinion, be prepared to admit, that at no period whatever was constitutional law more ably expounded in Ireland than in the sessions of 1640 and 1641; and that not only the principles of Swift and of Molyneux had a triumph in 1782, but the older doctrines also of Sir Ralph Kelly, Audley Mervin, and Patrick Darcy.
Strafford’s Deputy, Sir Christopher Wandesford, having died before the close of 1640, the King appointed Robert, Lord Dillon, a liberal Protestant, and Sir William Parsons, Lords Justices. But the pressure of Puritan influence in England compelled him in a short time to remove Dillon and substitute Sir John Borlace, Master of the Ordnance —a mere soldier—in point of fanaticism a fitting colleague for Parsons. The prorogation of Parliament soon gave these administrators opportunities to exhibit the spirit in which they proposed to carry on the government. When at a public entertainment in the capital, Parsons openly declared that in twelve months more no Catholics should be seen in Ireland, it was naturally inferred that the Lord Justice spoke not merely for himself but for the growing party of the English Puritans and Scottish Covenanters. The latter had repeatedly avowed that they never would lay down their arms until they had wrought the extirpation of Popery, and Mr. Pym, the Puritan leader in England, had openly declared that his party intended not to leave a priest in Ireland. The infatuation of the unfortunate Charles in entrusting at such a moment the supreme power, civil and military, to two of the devoted partizans of his deadliest enemies, could not fail to arouse the fears of all who felt themselves obnoxious to the fanatical party, either by race or by religion.
The aspirations of the chief men among the old Irish for entire freedom of worship, their hopes of recovering at least a portion of their estates, the example of the Scots, who had successfully upheld both their Church and nation against all attempts at English supremacy, the dangers that pressed, and the fears that overhung them, drove many of the very first abilities and noblest characters into the conspiracy which exploded with such terrific energy on the 23rd of October, 1641. The project, though matured on Irish soil, was first conceived among the exiled Catholics, who were to be found at that day in all the schools and camps of Spain, Italy, France and the Netherlands. Philip III. had an Irish legion, under the command of Henry O’Neil, son of Tyrone, which, after his death was transferred to his brother John. In this legion, Owen Roe O’Neil, nephew of Tyrone, learned the art of war, and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. The number of Irish serving abroad had steadily increased after 1628, when a license of enlistment was granted by King James. An English emissary, evidently well-informed, was enabled to report, about the year 1630, that there were in the service of the Archduchess Isabella, in the Spanish Netherlands alone, “100 Irish officers able to command companies, and 20 fit to be colonels.” The names of many others are given as men of noted courage, good engineers, and “well-beloved” captains, both Milesians and Anglo-Irish, residing at Lisbon, Florence, Milan and Naples. The emissary adds that they had long been providing arms for an attempt upon Ireland, “and had in readiness 5,000 or 6,000 arms laid up in Antwerp for that purpose, bought out of the deduction of their monthly pay.” After the death of the Archduchess, in 1633, an attempt was made by the Franco-Dutch, under Prince Maurice and Marshal Chatillon, to separate the Belgian Provinces from Spain. In the sanguinary battle at Avien victory declared for the French, and on their junction with Prince Maurice, town after town surrendered to their arms. The first successful stand against them was made at Louvain, defended by 4,000 Belgians, Walloons, Spaniards and Irish; the Irish, 1,000 strong, under the command of Colonel Preston, of the Gormanstown family, greatly distinguished themselves. The siege was raised on the 4th of July, 1635, and Belgium was saved for that time to Philip IV. At the capture of Breda, in 1637, the Irish were again honourably conspicuous, and yet more so in the successful defence of Arras, the capital of Artois, three years later. Not yet strengthened by the citadel of Vauban, this ancient Burgundian city, famous for its cathedral and its manufactures, dear to the Spaniards as one of the conquests of Charles V., was a vital point in the campaign of 1640. Besieged by the French, under Marshal Millerie, it held out for several weeks under the command of Colonel Owen Roe O’Neil. The King of France lying at Amiens, within convenient distance, took care that the besiegers wanted for nothing; while the Prince-Cardinal, Ferdinand, the successor of the Archduchess in the government, marched to its relief at the head of his main force with the Imperialists, under Launboy, and the troops of the Duke of Lorrain, commanded by that Prince in person. In an attack on the French lines the Allies were beaten off with loss, and the brave commander was left again unsuccoured in the face of his powerful assailant. Subsequently Don Philip de Silva, General of the Horse to the Prince Cardinal, was despatched to its relief, but failed to effect anything; a failure for which he was court-martialed, but acquitted. The defenders, after exhausting every resource, finally surrendered the place on honourable terms, and marched out covered with glory. These stirring events, chronicled in prose and verse at home, rekindled the martial ardour which had slumbered since the disastrous day of Kinsale.
In the ecclesiastics who shared their banishment, the military exiles had a voluntary diplomatic corps who lost no opportunity of advancing the common cause. At Rome, their chief agent was Father Luke Wadding, founder of Saint Isidore’s, one of the most eminent theologians and scholars of his age. Through the friendship of Gregory XV. and Urban VIII., many Catholic princes became deeply interested in the religious wars which the Irish of the previous ages had so bravely waged, and which their descendants were now so anxious to renew. Cardinal Richelieu—who wielded a power greater than that of Kings—had favourably entertained a project of invasion submitted to him by the son of Hugh O’Neil, a chief who, while living, was naturally regarded by the exiles as their future leader.
To prepare the country for such an invasion (if the return of men to their own country can be called by that name), it was necessary to find an agent with talents for organization, and an undoubted title to credibility and confidence. This agent was fortunately found in the person of Rory or Roger O’Moore, the representative of the ancient chiefs of Leix, who had grown up at the Spanish Court as the friend and companion of the O’Neils. O’Moore was then in the prime of life, of handsome person, and most seductive manners; his knowledge of character was profound; his zeal for the Catholic cause, intense; his personal probity, honour, and courage, undoubted. The precise date of O’Moore’s arrival in Ireland is not given in any of the cotemporary accounts, but he seems to have been resident in the country some time previous to his appearance in public life, as he is familiarly spoken of by his English cotemporaries as “Mr. Roger Moore of Ballynagh.” During the Parliamentary session of 1640, he took lodgings in Dublin, where he succeeded in enlisting in his plans Conor Maguire, Lord Enniskillen, Philip O’Reilly, one of the members for the county of Cavan, Costelloe McMahon, and Thorlogh O’Neil, all persons of great influence in Ulster. During the ensuing assizes in the Northern Province he visited several country towns, where in the crowd of suitors and defendants he could, without attracting special notice, meet and converse with those he desired to gain over. On this tour he received the important accession of Sir Phelim O’Neil of Kinnaird, in Tyrone, Sir Con Magennis of Down, Colonel Hugh McMahon of Monaghan, and Dr. Heber McMahon, Administrator of Clogher. Sir Phelim O’Neil, the most considerable man of his name tolerated in Ulster, was looked upon as the greatest acquisition, and at his castle of Kinnaird his associates from the neighbouring counties, under a variety of pretexts, contrived frequently to meet. From Ulster, the indefatigable O’Moore carried the threads of the conspiracy into Connaught with equal success, finding both among the nobility and clergy many adherents. In Leinster, among the Anglo-Irish, he experienced the greatest timidity and indifference, but an unforeseen circumstance threw into his hands a powerful lever, to move that province. This was the permission granted by the King to the native regiments, embodied by Strafford, to enter into the Spanish service, if they so desired. His English Parliament made no demur to the arrangement, which would rid the island of some thousands of disciplined Catholics, but several of their officers, under the inspiration of O’Moore, kept their companies together, delaying their departure from month to month. Among these were Sir James Dillon, Colonel Plunkett, Colonel Byrne, and Captain Fox, who, with O’Moore, formed the first directing body of the Confederates in Leinster.
In May, 1641, Captain Neil O’Neil arrived from the Netherlands with an urgent request from John, Earl of Tyrone, to all his clansmen to prepare for a general insurrection. He also brought them the cheering news that Cardinal Richelieu—then at the summit of his greatness —had promised the exiles arms, money, and means of transport. He was sent back, almost immediately, with the reply of Sir Phelim, O’Moore and their friends, that they would be prepared to take the field a few days before or after the festival of All Hallows—the 1st of November. The death of Earl John, the last surviving son of the illustrious Tyrone, shortly afterwards, though it grieved the Confederates, wrought no change in their plans. In his cousin-germain, the distinguished defender of Arras, they reposed equal confidence, and their confidence could not have been more worthily bestowed.
THE INSURRECTION OF 1641.
The plan agreed upon by the Confederates included four main features. I. A rising after the harvest was gathered in, and a campaign during the winter months, when supplies from England were most difficult to be obtained by their enemies. II. A simultaneous attack on one and the same day or night on all the fortresses within reach of their friends. III. To surprise the Castle of Dublin, which was said to contain arms for 12,000 men. IV. Aid in officers, munitions, and money from abroad. All the details of this project were carried successfully into effect, except the seizure of Dublin Castle—the most difficult as it would have been the most decisive blow to strike.
Towards the end of August, a meeting of those who could most conveniently attend was held in Dublin. There were present O’Moore and Maguire, of the civilians, and Colonels Plunkett, Byrne, and McMahon of the army. At this meeting the last week of October, or first of November, was fixed upon as the time to rise; subsequently Saturday, the 23rd of the first named month, a market day in the capital was selected. The northern movements were to be arranged with Sir Phelim O’Neil, while McMahon, Plunkett, and Byrne, with 200 picked men, were to surprise the Castle guard—consisting of only a few pensioners and 40 halbediers—turn the guns upon the city to intimidate the Puritan party, and thus make sure of Dublin; O’Moore, Lord Maguire, and other civilians, were to be in town, in order to direct the next steps to be taken. As the day approached, the arrangements went on with perfect secrecy but with perfect success. On the 22nd of October half the chosen band were in waiting, and the remainder were expected in during the night. Some hundreds of persons, in and about Dublin, and many thousands throughout the country, must have been in possession of that momentous secret, yet it was by the mere accident of trusting a drunken dependent out of sight, that the first knowledge of the plot was conveyed to the Lords Justices on the very eve of its execution.
Owen O’Connolly, the informant on this occasion, was one of those ruffling squires or henchmen, who accompanied gentlemen of fortune in that age, to take part in their quarrels, and carry their confidential messages. That he was not an ordinary domestic servant, we may learn from the fact of his carrying a sword, after the custom of the class to which we have assigned him. At this period he was in the service of Sir John Clotworthy, one of the most violent of the Puritan Undertakers, and had conformed to the established religion. Through what recklessness, or ignorance of his true character, he came to be invited by Colonel Hugh McMahon to his lodgings, and there, on the evening of the 22nd, entrusted with a knowledge of next day’s plans, we have now no means of deciding. O’Connolly’s information, as tendered to the Justices, states that on hearing of the proposed attack on the Castle, he pretended an occasion to withdraw, leaving his sword in McMahon’s room to avoid suspicion, and that after jumping over fences and palings, he made his way from the north side of the city to Sir William Parsons at the Castle. Parsons at first discredited the tale, which O’Connolly (who was in liquor) told in a confused and rambling manner, but he finally decided to consult his colleague, Borlase, by whom some of the Council were summoned, the witness’s deposition taken down, orders issued to double the guard, and officers despatched, who arrested McMahon at his lodgings. When McMahon came to be examined before the Council, it was already the morning of the 23rd; he boldly avowed his own part in the plot, and declared that what was that day to be done was now beyond the power of man to prevent. He was committed close prisoner to the Castle where he had hoped to command, and search was made for the other leaders in town. Maguire was captured the next morning, and shared McMahon’s captivity; but O’Moore, Plunkett, and Byrne succeeded in escaping out of the city. O’Connolly was amply rewarded in lands and money; and we hear of him once afterwards, with the title of Colonel, in the Parliamentary army.
As McMahon had declared to the Justices, the rising was now beyond the power of man to prevent. In Ulster, by stratagem, surprise, or force, the forts of Charlemont and Mountjoy, and the town of Dungannon, were seized on the night of the 22nd by Sir Phelim O’Neil or his lieutenants; on the next day Sir Conor Magennis took the town of Newry, the McMahons possessed themselves of Carrickmacross and Castleblaney, the O’Hanlons Tandragee, while Philip O’Reilly and Roger Maguire razed Cavan and Fermanagh. A proclamation of the northern leaders appeared the same day, dated from Dungannon, setting forth their “true intent and meaning” to be, not hostility to his Majesty the King, “nor to any of his subjects, neither English nor Scotch; but only for the defence and liberty of ourselves and the Irish natives of this kingdom.” A more elaborate manifesto appeared shortly afterwards from the pen of Rory O’Moore, in which the oppressions of the Catholics for conscience’ sake were detailed, the King’s intended “graces” acknowledged, and their frustration by the malice of the Puritan party exhibited: it also endeavoured to show that a common danger threatened the Protestants of the Episcopal Church with Roman Catholics, and asserted in the strongest terms the devotion of the Catholics to the Crown. In the same politic and tolerant spirit, Sir Conor Magennis wrote from Newry on the 25th to the officers commanding at Down. “We are,” he wrote, “for our lives and liberties. We desire no blood to be shed, but if you mean to shed our blood, be sure we shall be as ready as you for that purpose.” This threat of retaliation, so customary in all wars, was made on the third day of the rising, and refers wholly to future contingencies; the monstrous fictions which were afterwards circulated of a wholesale massacre committed on the 23rd were not as yet invented, nor does any public document or private letter, written in Ireland in the last week of October, or during the first days of November, so much as allude to those tales of blood and horror, afterwards so industriously circulated, and so greedily swallowed.
Fully aroused from their lethargy by McMahon’s declaration, the Lords Justices acted with considerable vigour. Dublin was declared to be in a state of siege; courts martial were established; arms were distributed to the Protestant citizens, and some Catholics; and all strangers were ordered to quit the city under pain of death. Sir Francis Willoughby, Governor of Galway, who arrived on the night of the 22nd, was entrusted with the command of the Castle, Sir Charles Coote was appointed Military Governor of the city, and the Earl, afterwards Duke of Ormond, was summoned from Carrick-on-Suir to take command of the army. As Coote played a very conspicuous part in the opening scenes of this war, and Ormond till its close, it may be well to describe them both, more particularly, to the reader.
Sir Charles Coote, one of the first Baronets of Ireland, like Parsons, Boyle, Chichester, and other Englishmen, had come over to Ireland during the war against Tyrone, in quest of fortune. His first employments were in Connaught, where he filled the offices of Provost-Marshal and Vice-Governor in the reign of James I. His success as an Undertaker entitles him to rank with the fortunate adventurers we have mentioned; in Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim, Queen’s, and other counties, his possessions and privileges raised him to the rank of the richest subjects of his time. In 1640 he was a colonel of foot, with the estates of a Prince and the habits of a Provost-Marshal. His reputation for ferocious cruelty has survived the remembrance even of his successful plunder of other people’s property; before the campaigns of Cromwell there was no better synonym for wanton cruelty than the name of Sir Charles Coote.
James Butler, Earl, Marquis, and Duke of Ormond deservedly ranks amongst the principal statesmen of his time. During a public career of more than half a century his conduct in many eminent offices of trust was distinguished by supreme ability, life-long firmness and consistency. As a courtier of the House of Stuart, it was impossible that he should have served and satisfied both Charleses without participating in many indefensible acts of government, and originating some of them. Yet judged, not from the Irish but the Imperial point of view, not by an abstract standard but by the public morality of his age, he will be found fairly deserving of the title of “the great Duke” bestowed on him during his lifetime. When summoned by the Lords Justices to their assistance in 1641, he was in the thirty-first year of his age, and had so far only distinguished himself in political life as the friend of the late Lord Strafford. He had, however, the good fortune to restore in his own person the estates of his family, notwithstanding that they were granted in great part to others by King James; his attachment to the cause of King Charles was very naturally augmented by the fact that the partiality of that Prince and his ill-fated favourite had enabled him to retrieve both the hereditary wealth and the high political influence which formerly belonged to the Ormond Butlers. Such an ally was indispensable to the Lords Justices in the first panic of the insurrection; but it was evident to near observers that Ormond, a loyalist and a churchman, could not long act in concert with such devoted Puritans as Parsons, Borlase, and Coote.
The military position of the several parties—there were at least three—when Ormond arrived at Dublin, in the first week of November, may be thus stated: I. In Munster and Connaught there was but a single troop of royal horse, each, left as a guard with the respective Presidents, St. Leger and Willoughby; in Kilkenny, Dublin, and other of the midland counties, the gentry, Protestant and Catholic, were relied on to raise volunteers for their own defence; in Dublin there had been got together 1,500 old troops; six new regiments of foot were embodied; and thirteen volunteer companies of 100 each. In the Castle were arms and ammunition for 12,000 men, with a fine train of field artillery, provided by Stafford for his campaign in the north of England. Ormond, as Lieutenant-General, had thus at his disposal, in one fortnight after the insurrection broke out, from 8,000 to 10,000 well appointed men; his advice was to take the field at once against the northern leaders before the other Provinces became equally inflamed. But his judgment was overruled by the Justices, who would only consent, while awaiting their cue from the Long Parliament, to throw reinforcements into Drogheda, which thus became their outpost towards the north. II. In Ulster there still remained in the possession of “the Undertakers” Enniskillen, Deny, the Castles of Killeagh and Crohan in Cavan, Lisburn, Belfast, and the stronghold of Carrickfergus, garrisoned by the regiments of Colonel Chichester and Lord Conway. King Charles, who was at Edinburgh endeavouring to conciliate the Scottish Parliament when news of the Irish rising reached him, procured the instant despatch of 1,500 men to Ulster, and authorized Lords Chichester, Ardes and Clandeboy, to raise new regiments from among their own tenants. The force thus embodied—which may be called from its prevailing element the Scottish army—cannot have numbered less than 5,000 foot, and the proportionate number of horse. III. The Irish in the field by the first of November are stated in round numbers at 30,000 men in the northern counties alone; but the whole number supplied with arms and ammunition could not have reached one-third of that nominal total. Before the surprise of Charlemont and Mountjoy forts, Sir Phelim O’Neil had but a barrel or two of gunpowder; the stores of those forts, with 70 barrels taken at Newry by Magennis, and all the arms captured in the simultaneous attack, which at the outside could not well exceed 4,000 or 5,000 stand—constituted their entire equipment. One of Ormond’s chief reasons for an immediate campaign in the North was to prevent them having time to get “pikes made”—which shows their deficiency even in that weapon. Besides this defect there was one, if possible, still more serious. Sir Phelim was a civilian, bred to the profession of the law; Rory O’Moore, also, had never seen service; and although Colonel Owen O’Neil and others had promised to join them “at fourteen days’ notice,” a variety of accidents prevented the arrival of any officer of distinction during the brief remainder of that year. Sir Phelim, however, boldly assumed the title of “Lord General of the Catholic Army in Ulster,” and the still more popular title with the Gaelic speaking population of “The O’Neil.”
The projected winter campaign, after the first week’s successes, did not turn out favourably for the northern Insurgents. The beginning of November was marked by the barbarous slaughter committed by the Scottish garrison of Carrickfergus in the Island Magee. Three thousand persons are said to have been driven into the fathomless north sea, over the cliffs of that island, or to have perished by the sword. The ordinary inhabitants could not have exceeded one-tenth as many, but the presence of so large a number may be accounted for by the supposition that they had fled from the mainland across the peninsula, which is left dry at low water, and were pursued to their last refuge by the infuriated Covenanters. From this date forward until the accession of Owen Roe O’Neil to the command, the northern war assumed a ferocity of character foreign to the nature of O’Moore, O’Reilly and Magennis. That Sir Phelim permitted, if he did not sometimes in his gusts of stormy passion instigate, those acts of cruelty, which have stained his otherwise honourable conduct, is too true; but he stood alone among his confederates in that crime, and that crime stands alone in his character. Brave to rashness and disinterested to excess, few rebel chiefs ever made a more heroic end out of a more deplorable beginning.
The Irish Parliament, which was to have met on the 16th of November, was indefinitely prorogued by the Lords Justices, who preferred to act only with their chosen quorum of Privy Counsellors. The Catholic Lords of the Pale, who at first had arms granted for their retainers out of the public stores, were now summoned to surrender them by a given day; an insult not to be forgiven. Lords Dillon and Taafe, then deputies to the King, were seized at Ware by the English Puritans, their papers taken from them, and themselves imprisoned. O’Moore, whose clansmen had recovered Dunamase and other strongholds in his ancient patrimony, was still indefatigable in his propaganda among the Anglo-Irish. By his advice Sir Phelim marched to besiege Drogheda, at the head of his tumultuous bands. On the way southward he made an unsuccessful attack upon Lisburn, where he lost heavily; on the 24th of November he took possession of Mellifont Abbey, from whose gate the aged Tyrone had departed in tears, twenty-five years before. From Mellifont he proceeded to invest Drogheda; Colonel Plunkett, with the title of General, being the sole experienced officer as yet engaged in his ranks. A strongly walled town as Drogheda was, well manned, and easily accessible from the sea, cannot be carried without guns and engineers by any amount of physical courage. Whenever the Catholics were fairly matched in the open field, they were generally successful, as at Julianstown, during this siege, where one of their detachments cut off five out of six companies marching from Dublin to reinforce the town; but though the investment was complete, the vigilant governor, Sir Henry Tichburne, successfully repulsed the assailants. O’Moore, who lay between Ardee and Dundalk with a reserve of 2,000 men, found time during the siege to continue his natural career, that of a diplomatist. The Puritan party, from the Lord Justice downwards, were, indeed, every day hastening that union of Catholics of all origins which the founder of the Confederacy so ardently desired to bring about. Their avowed maxim was that the more men rebelled, the more estates there would be to confiscate. In Munster, their chief instruments were the aged Earl of Cork, still insatiable as ever for other men’s possessions, and the President St. Leger; in Leinster, Sir Charles Coote. Lord Cork prepared 1,100 indictments against men of property in his Province, which he sent to the Speaker of the Long Parliament, with an urgent request that they might be returned to him, with authority to proceed against the parties named, as outlaws. In Leinster, 4,000 similar indictments were found in the course of two days by the free use of the rack with witnesses. Sir John Read, an officer of the King’s Bedchamber, and Mr. Barnwall, of Kilbrue, a gentleman of threescore and six, were among those who underwent the torture. When these were the proceedings of the tribunals in peaceable cities, we may imagine what must have been the excesses of the soldiery in the open county. In the South, Sir William St. Leger directed a series of murderous raids upon the peasantry of Cork, which at length produced their natural effect. Lord Muskerry and other leading recusants, who had offered their services to maintain the peace of the Province, were driven by an insulting refusal to combine for their own protection. The 1,100 indictments of Lord Cork soon swelled their ranks, and the capture of the ancient city of Cashel by Philip O’Dwyer announced the insurrection of the South. Waterford soon after opened its gates to Colonel Edmund Butler; Wexford declared for the Catholic cause, and Kilkenny surrendered to Lord Mountgarret. In Wicklow, Coote’s troopers committed murders such as had not been equalled since the days of the Pagan Northmen. Little children were carried aloft writhing on the pikes of these barbarians, whose worthy commander confessed that “he liked such frolics.” Neither age nor sex was spared, and an ecclesiastic was especially certain of instant death. Fathers Higgins and White of Naas, in Kildare, were given up by Coote to these “lambs,” though each had been granted a safe conduct by his superior officer, Lord Ormond. And these murders were taking place at the very tune when the Franciscans and Jesuits of Cashel were protecting Dr. Pullen, the Protestant Chancellor of that Cathedral and other Protestant prisoners; while also the Castle of Cloughouter, in Cavan, the residence of Bishop Bedell, was crowded with Protestant fugitives, all of whom were carefully guarded by the chivalrous Philip O’Reilly.
At length the Catholic Lords of the Pale began to feel the general glow of an outraged people, too long submissive under every species of provocation. The Lords Justices having summoned them to attend in Dublin on the 8th of December, they met at Swords, at the safe distance of seven miles, and sent by letter their reasons for not trusting themselves in the capital. To the allegations in this letter the Justices replied by proclamation, denying most of them, and repeating their summons to Lords Fingal, Gormanstown, Slane, Dunsany, Netterville, Louth, and Trimleston, to attend in Dublin on the 17th. But before the 17th came, as if to ensure the defeat of then own summons, Coote was let loose upon the flourishing villages of Fingal, and the flames kindled by his men might easily be discovered from the round tower of Swords. On the 17th, the summoned Lords, with several of the neighbouring gentry, met by appointment on the hill of Crofty, in the neighbouring county of Meath; while they were engaged in discussing the best course to be taken, a party of armed men on horseback, accompanied by a guard of musketeers, was seen approaching. They proved to be O’Moore, O’Reilly, Costelloe McMahon, brother of the prisoner, Colonel Byrne, and Captain Fox. Lord Gormanstown, advancing in front of his friends, demanded of the new-comers “why they came armed into the Pale?” To which O’Moore made answer “that the ground of their coming thither was for the freedom and liberty of their consciences, the maintenance of his Majesty’s prerogative, in which they understood he was abridged, and the making the subjects of this kingdom as free as those of England.” Lord Gormanstown, after consulting a few moments with his friends, replied: “Seeing these be your true ends, we will likewise join with you.” The leaders then embraced, amid the acclamations of their followers, and the general conditions of then: union having been unanimously agreed upon, a warrant was drawn out authorizing the Sheriff of Meath to summon the gentry of the county to a final meeting at the Hill of Tara on the 24th of December.
THE CATHOLIC CONFEDERATION—ITS CIVIL GOVERNMENT AND MILITARY ESTABLISHMENT.
How a tumultuous insurrection grew into a national organization, with a senate, executive, treasury, army, ships, and diplomacy, we are now to describe. It may, however, be assumed throughout the narrative, that the success of the new Confederacy was quite as much to be attributed to the perverse policy of its enemies as to the counsels of its best leaders. The rising in the midland and Munster counties, and the formal adhesion of the Lords of the Pale, were two of the principal steps towards the end. A third was taken by the Bishops of the Province of Armagh, assembled in Provincial Synod at Kells, on the 22nd of March, 1642, where, with the exception of Dease of Meath, they unanimously pronounced “the war just and lawful.” After solemnly condemning all acts of private vengeance, and all those who usurped other men’s estates, this provincial meeting invited a national synod to meet at Kilkenny on the 10th day of May following. On that day accordingly, all the Prelates then in the country, with the exception of Bishop Dease, met at Kilkenny. There were present O’Reilly, Archbishop of Armagh; Butler, Archbishop of Cashel; O’Kealy, Archbishop of Tuam; David Rothe, the venerable Bishop of Ossory; the Bishops of Clonfert, Elphin, Waterford, Lismore, Kildare, and Down and Conor; the proctors of Dublin, Limerick, and Killaloe, with sixteen other dignitaries and heads of religious orders—in all, twenty-nine prelates and superiors, or their representatives. The most remarkable attendants were, considering the circumstances of their Province, the prelates of Connaught. Strafford’s reign of terror was still painfully remembered west of the Shannon, and the immense family influence of Ulick Burke, then Earl, and afterwards Marquis of Clanrickarde, was exerted to prevent the adhesion of the western population to the Confederacy. But the zeal of the Archbishop of Tuam, and the violence of the Governor of Galway, Sir Francis Willoughby, proved more than a counterpoise for the authority of Clanrickarde and the recollection of Strafford: Connaught, though the last to come into the Confederation, was also the last to abandon it.
The Synod of Kilkenny proceeded with the utmost solemnity and anxiety to consider the circumstances of their own and the neighbouring kingdoms. No equal number of men could have been found in Ireland, at that day, with an equal amount of knowledge of foreign and domestic politics. Many of them had spent years upon the Continent, while the French Huguenots held their one hundred “cautionary towns,” and “leagues” and “associations” were the ordinary instruments of popular resistance in the Netherlands and Germany. Nor were the events transpiring in the neighbouring island unknown or unweighed by that grave assembly. The true meaning and intent of the Scottish and English insurrections were by this time apparent to every one. The previous months had been especially fertile in events, calculated to rouse their most serious apprehensions. In March, the King fled from London to York; in April, the gates of Hull were shut in his face by Hotham, its governor; and in May, the Long Parliament voted a levy of 16,000 without the royal authority. The Earl of Warwick had been appointed the Parliamentary commander of the fleet, and the Earl of Essex, their Lord General, with Cromwell as one of his captains. From that hour it was evident the sword alone could decide between Charles and his subjects. In Scotland, too, events were occurring in which Irish Catholics were vitally interested. The contest for the leadership of the Scottish royalists between the Marquises of Hamilton and Montrose had occupied the early months of the year, and given their enemies of the Kirk and the Assembly full time to carry on their correspondence with the English Puritans. In April, all parties in Scotland agreed in despatching a force of 2,500 men, under “the memorable Major Monroe,” for the protection of the Scottish settlers in Ulster. On the 15th of that month this officer landed at Carrickfergus, which was “given up to him by agreement,” with the royalist Colonel Chichester; the fortress, which was by much the strongest in that quarter, continued for six years the head-quarters of the Scottish general, with whom we shall have occasion to meet again.
The state of Anglo-Irish affairs was for some months one of disorganization and confusion. In January and February the King had been frequently induced to denounce by proclamation his “Irish rebels.” He had offered the Parliament to lead their reinforcements in person, had urged the sending of arms and men, and had repeatedly declared that he would never consent to tolerate Popery in that country. He had failed to satisfy his enemies, by these profuse professions had dishonoured himself, and disgusted many who were far from being hostile to his person or family. Parsons and Borlase were still continued in the government, and Coote was entrusted by them, on all possible occasions, with a command distinct from that of Ormond. Having proclaimed the Lords of the Pale rebels for refusing to trust their persons within the walls of Dublin, Coote was employed during January to destroy Swords, their place of rendezvous, and to ravage the estates of their adherents in that neighbourhood. In the same month 1,100 veterans arrived at Dublin under Sir Simon Harcourt; early in February arrived Sir Richard Grenville with 400 horse, and soon after Lieutenant-Colonel George Monk, afterwards Duke of Albemarle, with Lord Leicester’s regiment, 1,500 strong. Up to this period Ormond had been restrained by the Justices, who were as timid as they were cruel, to operations within an easy march of Dublin. He had driven the O’Moores and their Allies out of Naas; had reinforced some garrisons in Kildare; he had broken up, though not without much loss, an entrenched camp of the O’Byrnes at Kilsalgen wood, on the borders of Dublin; at last the Justices felt secure enough, at the beginning of March, to allow him to march to the relief of Drogheda. Sir Phelim O’Neil had invested the place for more than three months, had been twice repulsed from its walls, made a last desperate attempt, towards the end of February, but with no better success. After many lives were lost the impetuous lawyer-soldier was obliged to retire, and on the 8th of March, hearing of Ormond’s approach at the head of 4,000 fresh troops, he hastily retreated northward. On receiving this report, the Justices recalled Ormond to the capital; Sir Henry Tichburne and Lord Moore were despatched with a strong force, on the rear of the Ulster forces, and drove them out of Ardee and Dundalk—the latter after a sharp action. The march of Ormond into Meath had, however, been productive of offers of submission from many of the gentry of the Pale, who attended the meetings at Crofty and Tara. Lord Dunsany and Sir John Netterville actually surrendered on the Earl’s guarantee, and were sent to Dublin; Lords Gormanstown, Netterville, and Slane, offered by letter to follow their example; but the two former were, on reaching the city, thrust into the dungeons of the Castle, by order of the Justices; and the proposals of the latter were rejected with contumely. About the same time the Long Parliament passed an act declaring 2,500,000 acres of the property of Irish recusants forfeited to the State, and guaranteeing to all English “adventurers” contributing to the expenses of the war, and all soldiers serving in it, grants of land in proportion to their service and contribution. This act, and a letter from Lord Essex, the Parliamentarian Commander-in-Chief, recommending the transportation of captured recusants to the West Indian Colonies, effectually put a stop to these negotiations. In Ulster, by the end of April, there were 19,000 troops, regulars and volunteers, in the garrison or in the field. Newry was taken by Monroe and Chichester, where 80 men and women and 2 priests were put to death. Magennis was obliged to abandon Down, and McMahon Monaghan; Sir Philem was driven to burn Armagh and Dungannon, and to take his last stand at Charlemont. In a severe action with Sir Robert and Sir William Stewart, he had displayed his usual courage with better than his usual fortune, which, perhaps, we may attribute to the presence with him of Sir Alexander McDonnell, brother to Lord Antrim, the famous Colkitto of the Irish and Scottish wars. But the severest defeat which the Confederates had was in the heart of Leinster, at the hamlet of Kilrush, within four miles of Athy. Lord Ormond, returning from a second reinforcement of Naas and other Kildare forts, at the head, by English account, of 4,000 men, found on the 13th of April the Catholics of the midland counties, under Lords Mountgarrett, Ikerrin, and Dunboyne, Sir Morgan Cavenagh, Rory O’Moore, and Hugh O’Byrne, drawn up, by his report, 8,000 strong, to dispute his passage. With Ormond were the Lord Dillon, Lord Brabazon, Sir Richard Grenville, Sir Charles Coote, and Sir T. Lucas. The combat was short but murderous. The Confederates left 700 men, including Sir Morgan Cavenagh, and some other officers, dead on the field; the remainder retreated in disorder, and Ormond, with an inconsiderable diminution of numbers, returned in triumph to Dublin. For this victory the Long Parliament, in a moment of enthusiasm, voted the Lieutenant-General a jewel worth 500 pounds. If any satisfaction could be derived from such an incident, the violent death of their most ruthless enemy, Sir Charles Coote, might have afforded the Catholics some consolation. That merciless saberer, after the combat at Kilrush, had been employed in reinforcing Birr, and relieving the Castle of Geashill, which the Lady Letitia of Offally held against the neighbouring tribe of O’Dempsey. On his return from this service he made a foray against a Catholic force, which had mustered in the neighbourhood of Trim; here, on the night of the 7th of May, heading a sally of his troop, he fell by a musket shot—not without suspicion of being fired from his own ranks. His son and namesake, who imitated him in all things, was ennobled at the restoration by the title of the Earl of Mountrath. In Munster the President St. Leger, though lately reinforced by 1,000 men from England, did not consider himself strong enough for other than occasional forays into the neighbouring county, and little was effected in that Province.
Such was the condition of affairs at home and abroad when the National Synod assembled at Kilkenny. As the most popular tribunal invested with the highest moral power in the kingdom, it was their arduous task to establish order and authority among the chaotic elements of the revolution. By the admission of those most opposed to them they conducted their deliberations for nearly three weeks with equal prudence and energy. They first, on the motion of the venerable Bishop Rothe, framed an oath of association to be publicly taken by all their adherents, by the first part of which they were bound to bear “true faith and allegiance” to King Charles and his lawful successors, “to maintain the fundamental laws of Ireland, the free exercise of the Roman Catholic faith and religion.” By the second part of this oath all Confederate Catholics —for so they were to be called—as solemnly bound themselves never to accept or submit to any peace “without the consent and approbation of the general assembly of the said Confederate Catholics.” They then proceeded to make certain constitutions, declaring the war just and lawful; condemning emulations and distinctions founded on distinctions of race, such as “new” and “old Irish;” ordaining an elective council for each Province; and a Supreme or National Council for the whole kingdom; condemning as excommunicate all who should, having taken the oath, violate it, or who should be guilty of murder, violence to persons, or plunder under pretence of the war. Although the attendance of the lay leaders of the movement at Kilkenny was far from general, the exigencies of the case compelled them, to nominate, with the concurrence of the Bishops, the first Supreme Council of which Lord Mountgarrett was chosen President, and Mr. Richard Belling, an accomplished writer and lawyer, Secretary. By this body a General Assembly of the entire Nation was summoned to meet at the same city, on the 23rd of October following—the anniversary of the Ulster rising, commonly called by the English party “Lord Maguire’s day.” The choice of such an occasion by men of Mountgarrett’s and Selling’s moderation and judgment, six months after the date of the alleged “massacre,” would form another proof, if any were now needed, that none of the alleged atrocities were yet associated with the memory of that particular day.
The events of the five months, which intervened between the adjournment of the National Synod at the end of May, and the meeting of the General Assembly on the 23rd of October, may best be summed up under the head of the respective provinces. I. The oath of Confederation was taken with enthusiasm in Munster, a Provincial Council elected, and General Barry chosen Commander-in-Chief. Barry made an attempt upon Cork, which was repulsed, but a few days later the not less important city of Limerick opened its gates to the Confederates, and on the 21st of June the citadel was breached and surrendered by Courtenay, the Governor. On the 2nd of July St. Leger died at Cork (it was said of vexation for the loss of Limerick), and the command devolved on his son-in-law, Lord Inchiquin, a pupil of the school of Wards, and a soldier of the school of Sir Charles Coote. With Inchiquin was associated the Earl of Barrymore for the civil administration, but on Barrymore’s death in September both powers remained for twelve months in the hands of the survivor. The gain of Limerick was followed by the taking of Loughgar and Askeaton, but was counterbalanced by the defeat of Liscarroll, when the Irish loss was 800 men, with several colours; Inchiquin reported only 20 killed, including the young lord Kinalmeaky, one of the five sons whom the Earl of Cork gave to this war. II. In Connaught, Lord Clanrickarde was still enabled to avert a general outbreak. In vain the western Prelates besought him in a pathetic remonstrance to place himself at the head of its injured inhabitants, and take the command of the Province. He continued to play a middle part between the President, Lord Ranelagh, Sir Charles Coote the younger, and Willoughby, Governor of Galway, until the popular impatience burst all control. The chief of the O’Flahertys seized Clanrickarde’s castle, of Aughrenure, and the young men of Galway, with a skill and decision quite equal to that of the Derry apprentices of an after day, seized an English ship containing arms and supplies, lying in the bay, marched to the Church of Saint Nicholas, took the Confederate oath, and shut Willoughby up in the citadel. Clanrickarde hastened to extinguish this spark of resistance, and induced the townsmen to capitulate on his personal guarantee. But Willoughby, on the arrival of reinforcements, under the fanatical Lord Forbes, at once set the truce made by Clanrickarde at defiance, burned the suburbs, sacked the Churches, and during August and September, exercised a reign of terror in the town. About the same time local risings took place in Sligo, Mayo, and Roscommon, at first with such success that the President of the Province, Lord Ranelagh, shut himself up in the castle of Athlone, where he was closely besieged. III. In Leinster, no military movement of much importance was made, in consequence of the jealousy the Justices entertained of Ormond, and the emptiness of the treasury. In June, the Long Parliament remitted over the paltry sum of 11,500 pounds to the Justices, and 2,000 of the troops, which had all but mutinied for their pay, were despatched under Ormond to the relief of Athlone. Commissioners arrived during the summer, appointed by the Parliament to report on the affairs of Ireland, to whom the Justices submitted a penal code worthy of the brain of Draco or Domitian; Ormond was raised to the rank of Marquis, by the King; while the army he commanded grew more and more divided, by intrigues emanating from the castle and beyond the channel. Before the month of October, James Touchet, Earl of Castlehaven, an adventurous nobleman, possessed of large estates both in Ireland and England, effected his escape from Dublin Castle, where he had been imprisoned on suspicion by Parsons and Borlase, and joined the Confederation at Kilkenny. In September, Colonel Thomas Preston, the brave defender of Louvain, uncle to Lord Gormanstown, landed at Wexford, with three frigates and several transports, containing a few siege guns, field pieces, and other stores, 500 officers, and a number of engineers. IV. In Ulster, where the first blow was struck, and the first hopes were excited, the prospect had become suddenly overclouded. Monroe took Dunluce from Lord Antrim by the same stratagem by which Sir Phelim took Charlemont—inviting himself as a guest, and arresting his host at his own table. A want of cordial co-operation between the Scotch commander and “the Undertakers” alone prevented them extinguishing, in one vigorous campaign, the northern insurrection. So weak and disorganized were now the thousands who had risen at a bound one short year before, that the garrisons of Enniskillen, Deny, Newry, and Drogheda, scoured almost unopposed the neighbouring counties. The troops of Cole, Hamilton, the Stewarts, Chichesters, and Conways, found little opposition, and gave no quarter. Sir William Cole, among his claims of service rendered to the State, enumerated “7,000 of the rebels famished to death,” within a circuit of a few miles from Enniskillen. The disheartened and disorganized natives were seriously deliberating a wholesale emigration to the Scottish highlands, when a word of magic effect was whispered from the sea coast to the interior. On the 6th of July, Colonel Owen Roe O’Neil arrived off Donegal with a single ship, a single company of veterans, 100 officers, and a considerable quantity of ammunition. He landed at Doe Castle, and was escorted by his kinsman, Sir Phelim, to the fort of Charlemont. A general meeting of the northern clans was quickly called at Clones, in Monaghan, and there, on an early day after his arrival, Owen O’Neil was elected “General-in-Chief of the Catholic Army” of the North, Sir Phelim resigning in his favour, and taking instead the barren title of “President of Ulster.” At the same moment Lord Lieven arrived from Scotland with the remainder of the 10,000 voted by the Parliament of that kingdom. He had known O’Neil abroad, had a high opinion of his abilities, and wrote to express his surprise “that a man of his reputation should be engaged in so bad a cause;” to which O’Neil replied that “he had a better right to come to the relief of his own country than his lordship had to march into England against his lawful King.” Lieven, before returning home, urged Monroe to act with promptitude, for that he might expect a severe lesson if the new commander once succeeded in collecting an army. But Monroe proved deaf to this advice, and while the Scottish and English forces in the Province would have amounted, if united, to 20,000 foot and 1,000 horse, they gave O’Neil time enough to embody, officer, drill, and arm (at least provisionally), a force not to be despised by even twice their numbers.
THE CONFEDERATE WAR—CAMPAIGN OF 1643—THE CESSATION.
The city of Kilkenny, which had become the capital of the Confederacy, was favourably placed for the direction of the war in Leinster and Munster. Nearly equidistant from Dublin, Cork, and Limerick, a meeting place for most of the southern and south-western roads, important in itself both as a place of trade, and as the residence of the Duke of Ormond and the Bishop of Ossory, a better choice could not, perhaps, have been made, so far as regarded the ancient southern “Half-Kingdom.” But it seems rather surprising that the difficulty of directing the war in the North and North-West, from a point so far south, did not occur to the statesmen of the Confederacy. In the defective communications of those days, especially during a war, partaking even partially of the character of civil strife, it was hard, if not impossible to expect, that a supervision could be exercised over a general or an army on the Erne or the Bann, which might be quite possible and proper on the Suir or the Shannon. A similar necessity in England necessitated the creation of the Presidency of the North, with its council and head-quarters in the city of York; nor need we be surprised to find that, from the first, the Confederate movements combined themselves into two groups—the northern and the southern— those which revolved round the centre of Kilkenny, and those which took their law from the head-quarters of Owen O’Neil, at Belturbet, or wherever else his camp happened to be situated.
The General Assembly met, according to agreement, on the 23rd of October, 1642, at Kilkenny. Eleven-bishops and fourteen lay lords represented the Irish peerage; two hundred and twenty-six commoners, the large majority of the constituencies. Both bodies sat in the same chamber, divided only by a raised dais. The celebrated lawyer, Patrick Darcy, a member of the Commons’ House, was chosen as chancellor, and everything was conducted with the gravity and deliberation befitting so venerable an Assembly, and so great an occasion. The business most pressing, and most delicate, was felt to be the consideration of a form of supreme executive government. The committee on this subject, who reported after the interval of a week, was composed of Lords Gormanstown and Castlehaven, Sir Phelim O’Neil, Sir Richard Belling, and Mr. Darcy. A “Supreme Council” of six members for each province was recommended, approved, and elected. The Archbishops of Armagh, Dublin, and Tuam, the Bishops of Down and of Clonfert, the Lords Gormanstown, Mountgarrett, Roche, and Mayo, with fifteen of the most eminent commoners, composed this council. It was provided that the vote of two-thirds should be necessary to any act affecting the basis of the Confederacy, but a quorum of nine was sufficient for the transaction of ordinary business. A guard of honour of 500 foot and 200 horse was allowed for their greater security. The venerable Mountgarrett, the head of the Catholic Butlers, (son-in-law of the illustrious Tyrone, who, in the last years of Elizabeth, had devoted his youthful sword to the same good cause,) was elected president of this, council; and Sir Richard Belling, a lawyer, and a man of letters, the continuator of Sir Philip Sydney’s Arcadia, was appointed secretary.
The first act of this Supreme Council was to appoint General O’Neil as Commander-in-Chief in Ulster; General Preston, in Leinster; General Barry, in Munster; and Sir John Burke as Lieutenant-General in Connaught; the supreme command in the West being held over for Clanrickarde, who, it was still hoped, might be led or driven into the Confederacy. We shall endeavour to indicate in turn the operations of these commanders, thus chosen or confirmed; leaving the civil and diplomatic business transacted by the General Assembly, or delegated to the Supreme Council, for future mention.
Contrary to the custom of that age, the Confederate troops were not withdrawn into winter quarters. In November, General Preston, at the head of 6,000 foot and 600 horse, encountered Monk at Tymahoe and Ballinakil, with some loss; but before the close of December he had reduced Birr, Banagher, Burris, and Fort Falkland, and found himself master of King’s county, from the Shannon to the Barrow. In February, however, he sustained a serious check at Rathconnell, in endeavouring to intercept the retreat of the English troops from Connaught, under the command of Lord Ranelagh, and the younger Coote; and in March, equal ill success attended his attempt to intercept Ormond, in his retreat from the unsuccessful siege of the town of Ross. Lord Castlehaven, who was Preston’s second in command, attributes both these reverses to the impetuosity of the general, whose imprudence seems to have been almost as great as his activity was conspicuous. In April and May, Preston and Castlehaven took several strongholds in Carlow, Kildare, and West-Meath, and the General Assembly, which met for its second session, on the 20th of May, 1643, at Kilkenny, had, on the whole, good grounds to be satisfied with the success of the war in Leinster.
In the Southern Province, considerable military successes might also be claimed by the Confederates. The Munster troops, under Purcell, the second in command, a capable soldier, who had learned the art of war in the armies of the German Empire, relieved Ross, when besieged by Ormond; General Barry had successfully repulsed an attack on his head-quarters, the famous old Desmond town of Killmallock. In June, Barry, Purcell, and Castlehaven drove the enemy before them across the Funcheon, and at Kilworth brought their main body, under Sir Charles Vavasour, to action. Vavasour’s force was badly beaten, himself captured, with his cannon and colours, and many of his officers and men. Inchiquin, who had endeavoured to form a junction with Vavasour, escaped to one of the few remaining garrisons open to him—probably Youghal.
In Connaught, the surrender of Galway, on the 20th of June, eclipsed all the previous successes, and they were not a few, of Lieutenant-General Burke. From the day Lord Ranelagh and the younger Coote deserted the Western province, the Confederate cause had rapidly advanced. The surrender of “the second fort in the Kingdom”—a sea-port in that age, not unworthy to be ranked with Cadiz and Bristol, for its commercial wealth and reputation—was a military event of the first importance. An English fleet appeared three days after the surrender of Willoughby, in Galway harbour; but nine long years elapsed before the Confederate colours were lowered from the towers of the Connaught citadel.
In the North, O’Neil, who, without injustice to any of his contemporaries, may certainly be said to have made, during his seven years’ command, the highest European reputation among the Confederate generals, gathered his recruits into a rugged district, which forms a sort of natural camp in the north-west corner of the island. The mountain plateau of Leitrim, which sends its spurs downwards to the Atlantic, towards Lough Erne, and into Longford, accessible only by four or five lines of road, leading over narrow bridges and through deep defiles, was the nursery selected by this cautious leader, in which to collect and organize his forces. In the beginning of May—seven months after the date of his commission, and ten from his solitary landing at Doe Castle—we find him a long march from his mountain fortress in Leitrim, at Charlemont, which he had strengthened and garrisoned, and now saved from a surprise attempted by Monroe, from Carrickfergus. Having effected that immediate object, he again retired towards the Leitrim highlands, fighting by the way a smart cavalry action at Clonish, with a superior force, under Colonels Stewart, Balfour, and Mervyn. In this affair O’Neil was only too happy to have carried off his troop with credit; but a fortnight brought him consolation for Clonish in the brilliant affair of Portlester. He had descended in force from his hills and taken possession of the greater part of the ancient Meath. General Monk and Lord Moore were despatched against him, but reinforced by a considerable body of Meathian Confederates, under Sir James Dillon, he resolved to risk his first regular engagement in the field. Taking advantage of the situation of the ground, about five miles from Trim, he threw up some field works, placed sixty men in Portlester mill, and patiently awaited the advance of the enemy. Their assault was overconfident, their rout complete. Lord Moore, and a large portion of the assailants were slain, and Monk fled back to Dublin. O’Neil, gathering fresh strength from these movements, abandoned his mountain stronghold, and established his head-quarters on the river Erne between Lough Oughter (memorable in his life and death) and the upper waters of Lough Erne. At this point stood the town of Belturbet, which, in “the Plantation” of James I., had been turned over exclusively to British settlers, whose “cagework” houses, and four acres of garden ground each, had elicited the approval of the surveyor Pynnar, twenty years before. The surrounding country was covered with the fortified castles and loop-holed lawns of the chief Undertakers—but few were found of sufficient strength to resist the arms of O’Neil. At Belturbet, he was within a few days’ march of the vital points of four other counties, and in case of the worst, within the same distance of his protective fastness. Here, towards the end of September, busied with present duties and future projects, he heard, for the first time, with astonishment and grief, that the requisite majority of “the Supreme Council” had concluded, on the 13th of that month, a twelve-months’ truce with Ormond, thus putting in peril all the advantages already acquired by the bravery of the Confederate troops, and the skill of their generals.
The war had lasted nearly two years, and this was the first time the Catholics had consented to negotiate. The moment chosen was a critical one for all the three Kingdoms, and the interests involved were complicated in the extreme. The Anglo-Irish, who formed the majority of the Supreme Council, connected by blood and language with England, had entered into the war, purely as one of religious liberty. Nationally, they had, apart from the civil disabilities imposed on religious grounds, no antipathy, no interest, hostile to the general body of English loyalists, represented in Ireland by the King’s lieutenant, Ormond. On his side, that nobleman gave all his thoughts to, and governed all his actions by the exigencies of the royal cause, throughout the three Kingdoms. When Charles seemed strong in England, Ormond rated the Catholics at a low figure; but when reverses increased he estimated their alliance more highly. After the drawn battle of Edgehill, fought on the very day of the first meeting of the General Assembly at Kilkenny, the King had established his head-quarters at Oxford, in the heart of four or five of the most loyal counties in England. Here he at first negotiated with the Parliament, but finally the sword was again invoked, and while the King proclaimed the Parliament rebels, “the solemn league and covenant” was entered into, at first separately, and afterwards jointly, by the Puritans of England and Presbyterians of Scotland. The military events during that year, and in the first half of the next, were upon the whole not unfavourable to the royal cause. The great battle of Marston Moor, (July 2nd, 1644,) which “extinguished the hopes of the Royalists in the Northern counties,” was the first Parliamentary victory of national importance. It was won mainly by the energy and obstinacy of Lieutenant-General Cromwell, from that day forth the foremost English figure in the Civil War. From his court at Oxford, where he had seen the utter failure of endeavouring to conciliate his English and Scottish enemies, the King had instructed Ormond—lately created a Marquis—to treat with the Irish Catholics, and to obtain from them men and money. The overtures thus made were brought to maturity in September; the Cessation was to last twelve months; each party was to remain in possession of its own quarters, as they were held at the date of the treaty; the forces of each were to unite to punish any infraction of the terms agreed on; the agents of the Confederates, during the cessation, were to have free access and safe conduct to the King; and for these advantages, the Supreme Council were to present his Majesty immediately with 15,000 pounds in money, and provisions to the value of 15,000 pounds more.
Such was “the truce of Castlemartin,” condemned by O’Neil, by the Papal Nuncio, Scarampi, and by the great majority of the old Irish, lay and clerical; still more violently denounced by the Puritan Parliament as favouring Popery, and negotiated by Popish agents; beneficial to Ormond and the Undertakers, as relieving Dublin, freeing the channel from Irish privateers, and securing them in the garrisons throughout the Kingdom which they still held; in one sense advantageous to Charles, from the immediate supplies it afforded, and the favourable impression it created of his liberality, at the courts of his Catholic allies; but on the other hand disadvantageous to him in England and Scotland, from the pretexts it furnished his enemies, of renewing the cry of his connivance with Popery, a cry neither easily answered, nor, of itself, liable quickly to wear out.
THE CESSATION AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
While the Confederate delegates, reverently uncovered, and Ormond, in hat and plume, as representing royalty, were signing “the cessation” at Castlemartin, the memorable Monroe, with all his men, were taking the covenant, on their knees, in the church of Carrickfergus, at the hands of the informer O’Connolly, now a colonel in the Parliamentary army, and high in the confidence of its chiefs. Soon after this ceremony, Monroe, appointed by the English Parliament Commander-in-Chief of all their forces in Ulster, united under his immediate leadership, of Scots, English, and Undertakers, not less than 10,000 men. With this force he marched southward as far as Newry, which he found an easy prey, and where he put to the sword, after surrender, sixty men, eighteen women, and two ecclesiastics. In vain the Confederates entreated Ormond to lead them against the common enemy in the North; pursuing always a line of policy of his own, in which their interest had a very slender part, that astute politician neither took the field, nor consented that they should do so of themselves. But the Supreme Council, roused by the remonstrances of the clergy, ordered Lord Castlehaven, with the title of Commander-in-Chief, to march against Monroe. This was virtually superseding O’Neil in his own province, and that it was so felt, even by its authors, is plain from their giving him simultaneously the command in Connaught. O’Neil, never greater than in acts of self-denial and self-sacrifice, stifled his profound chagrin, and cheerfully offered to serve under the English Earl, placed over his head. But the northern movements were, for many months, languid and uneventful; both parties seemed uncertain of their true policy; both, from day to day, awaited breathlessly for tidings from Kilkenny, Dublin, London, Oxford, or Edinburgh, to learn what new forms the general contest was to take, in order to guide their own conduct by the shifting phases of that intricate diplomacy.
Among the first consequences of the cessation were the debarkation at Mostyn, in Scotland, of 3,000 well provided Irish troops, under Colkitto (the left-handed,) Alexander McDonnell, brother of Lord Antrim. Following the banner of Montrose, these regiments performed great things at Saint Johnstown, at Aberdeen, at Inverlochy, all which have been eloquently recorded by the historians of that period. “Their reputation,” says a cautious writer, “more than their number, unnerved the prowess of their enemies. No force ventured to oppose them in the field; and as they advanced, every fort was abandoned or surrendered.” A less agreeable result of “the cessation,” for the court at Oxford, was the retirement from the royal army of the Earl of Newcastle, and most of his officers, on learning that such favourable conditions had been made with Irish Papists. To others of his supporters—as the Earl of Shrewsbury—Charles was forced to assume a tone of apology for that truce, pleading the hard necessities which compelled him: the truth seems to be, that there were not a few then at Oxford, who, like Lord Spencer, would gladly have been on the other side—or at all events in a position of neutrality—provided they could have found “a salve for their honour,” as gentlemen and cavaliers.
The year 1644 opened for the Irish with two events of great significance—the appointment of Ormond as Viceroy, in January, and the execution at Tyburn, by order of the English Parliament, of Lord Maguire, a prisoner in the Tower since October, 1641. Maguire died with a courage and composure worthy of his illustrious name, and his profoundly religious character. His long absence had not effaced his memory from the hearts of his devoted clansmen of Fermanagh, and many a prayer was breathed, and many a vow of vengeance muttered among them, for what they must naturally have regarded as the cold-blooded judicial murder of their chief.
Two Irish deputations—one Catholic, the other Protestant —proceeded this year to the King, at Oxford, with the approval of Ormond, who took care to be represented by confidential agents of his own. The Catholics found a zealous auxiliary in the queen, Henrietta Maria, who, as a co-religionist, felt with them, and, as a Frenchwoman, was free from insular prejudices against them. The Irish Protestants found a scarcely less influential advocate in the venerable Archbishop Usher, whose presence and countenance, as the most puritanical of his prelates, was most essential to the policy of Charles. The King heard both parties graciously—censured some of the demands of both as extravagant, and beyond his power to concede—admitted others to be reasonable and worthy of consideration—refused to confirm the churches they had seized to the Catholics—but was willing to allow them their “seminaries of education”—would not consent to enforce the penal laws on the demand of the Protestants —but declared that neither should the Undertakers be disturbed in their possessions or offices. In short, he pathetically exhorted both parties to consider his case as well as their own; promised them to call together the Irish Parliament at the earliest possible period; and so got rid of both deputations, leaving Ormond master of the position for some time longer.
The agents and friends of the Irish Catholics on the Continent were greatly embarrassed, and not a little disheartened by the cessation. At Paris, at Brussels, at Madrid, but above all at Rome, it was regretted, blamed, or denounced, according to the temper or the insight of the discontented. His Catholic Majesty had some time before remitted a contribution of 20,000 dollars to the Confederate Treasury; one of Richelieu’s last acts was to invite Con, son of Hugh O’Neil, to the French Court, and to permit the shipment of some pieces of ordnance to Ireland; from Rome, the celebrated Franciscan, Father Luke Wadding, had remitted 26,000 dollars, and the Nuncio Scarampi had brought further donations. The facility, therefore, with which the cessation had been agreed upon, against the views of the agents of the Catholic powers at Kilkenny, without any apparently sufficient cause, had certainly a tendency to check and chill the enthusiasm of those Catholic Princes who had been taught to look on the insurrection of the Irish as a species of Crusade. Remonstrances, warm, eloquent, and passionate, were poured in upon the most influential members of the Supreme Council, from those who had either by delegation, or from their own free will, befriended them abroad. These remonstrances reached that powerful body at Waterford, at Limerick, or at Galway, whither they had gone on an official visitation, to hear complaints, settle controversies, and provide for the better collection of the assessments imposed on each Province.
An incident which occurred in Ulster, soon startled the Supreme Council from their pacific occupations. General Monroe, having proclaimed that all Protestants within his command should take “the solemn league and covenant,” three thousand of that religion, still loyalists, met at Belfast, to deliberate on their answer. Monroe, however, apprised of their intentions, marched rapidly from Carrickfergus, entered the town under cover of night, and drove out the loyal Protestants at the point of the sword. The fugitives threw themselves into Lisburn, and Monroe appointed Colonel Hume as Governor of Belfast, for the Parliaments of Scotland and England. Castlehaven, with O’Neil still second in command, was now despatched northward against the army of the Covenant. Monroe, who had advanced to the borders of Meath as if to meet them, contented himself with gathering in great herds of cattle; as they advanced, he slowly fell back before them through Louth and Armagh, to his original head-quarters; Castlehaven then returned with the main body of the Confederate troops to Kilkenny, and O’Neil, depressed, but not dismayed, carried his contingent to their former position at Belturbet.
In Munster, a new Parliamentary party had time to form its combinations under the shelter of the cessation. The Earl of Inchiquin, who had lately failed to obtain the Presidency of Munster from the King at Oxford, and the Lord Broghill, son of the great Southern Undertaker—the first Earl of Cork,—were at the head of this movement. Under pretence that the quarters allotted them by the cessation had been violated, they contrived to seize upon Cork, Youghal, and Kinsale. At Cork, they publicly executed Father Mathews, a Friar, and proceeding from violence to violence, they drove from the three places all the Catholic inhabitants. They then forwarded a petition to the King, beseeching him to declare the Catholics “rebels,” and declaring their own determination to “die a thousand deaths sooner than condescend to any peace with them.” At the same time they entered into or avowed their correspondence with the English Parliament, which naturally enough encouraged and assisted them. The Supreme Council met these demonstrations with more stringent instructions to General Purcell, now their chief in command, (Barry having retired on account of advanced age,) to observe the cessation, and to punish severely every infraction of it. At the same time they permitted or directed Purcell to enter into a trace with Inchiquin till the following April; and then they rested on their arms, in religious fidelity to the engagements they had signed at Castlemartin.
The twelve-months’ truce was fast drawing to a close, when the battle of Marston Moor stimulated Ormond to effect a renewal of the treaty. Accordingly, at his request, Lord Muskerry, and five other commissioners, left Kilkenny on the last day of August for Dublin. Between them and the Viceroy, the cessation was prolonged till the first of December following; and when that day came, it was further protracted, as would appear, for three months, by which time, (March, 1645,) Ormond informed them that he had powers from the King to treat for a permanent settlement.
During the six months that the original cessation was thus protracted by the policy of Ormond, the Supreme Council sent abroad new agents, “to know what they had to trust to, and what succours they might really depend on from abroad.” Father Hugh Bourke was sent to Spain, and Sir Richard Belling to Rome, where Innocent X, had recently succeeded to that generous friend of the Catholic Irish. Urban VIII. The voyage of these agents was not free from hazard, for, whereas, before the cessation, the privateers commissioned by the Council, sheltered and supplied in the Irish harbours, had kept the southern coast clear of hostile shipping, now that they had been withdrawn under the truce, the parliamentary cruisers had the channel all to themselves. Waterford and Wexford—the two chief Catholic ports in that quarter— instead of seeing their waters crowded with prizes, now began to tremble for their own safety. The strong fort of Duncannon, on the Wexford side of Waterford harbour, was corruptly surrendered by Lord Esmond, to Inchiquin and the Puritans. After a ten-weeks’ siege, however, and the expenditure of 19,000 pounds of powder, the Confederates retook the fort, in spite of all the efforts made for its relief. Esmond, old and blind, escaped by a timely death the penalty due to his treason. Following up this success, Castlehaven rapidly invested other southern strongholds in possession of the same party, Cappoquin, Lismore, Mallow, Mitchelstown, Doneraile and Liscarroll surrendered on articles; Rostellan, commanded by Inchiquin’s brother, was stormed and taken; Boghill was closely besieged in Youghal, but, being relieved from sea, successfully defended himself. In another quarter, the Parliament was equally active. To compensate for the loss of Galway, they had instructed the younger Coote, on whom they had conferred the Presidency of Connaught, to withdraw the regiment of Sir Frederick Hamilton, and 400 other troops, from the command of Monroe, and with these, Sir Robert Stewart’s forces, and such others as he could himself raise, to invest Sligo. Against the force thus collected, Sligo could not hope to contend, and soon, from that town, as from a rallying and resting place, 2,000 horsemen were daily launched upon the adjoining country. Lord Clanrickarde, the royal president of the province, as unpopular as trimmers usually are in times of crisis, was unable to make head against this new danger. But the Confederates, under Sir James Dillon, and Dr. O’Kelly, the heroic Archbishop of Tuam, moved by the pitiful appeals of the Sligo people, boldly endeavoured to recover the town. They succeeded in entering the walls, but were subsequently repulsed and routed. The Archbishop was captured and tortured to death; some of the noblest families of the province and of Meath had also to mourn their chiefs; and several valuable papers, found or pretended to be found in the Archbishop’s carriage, were eagerly given to the press of London by the Parliament of England. This tragedy at Sligo occurred on Sunday, October 26th, 1645.
GLAMORGAN’S TREATY—THE NEW NUNCIO RINUCCINI— O’NEIL’S POSITION—THE BATTLE OF BENBURB.
Ormond had amused the Confederates with negotiations for a permanent peace and settlement, from spring till midsummer, when Charles, dissatisfied with these endless delays, despatched to Ireland a more hopeful ambassador. This was Herbert, Earl of Glamorgan, one of the few Catholics remaining among the English nobility; son and heir to the Marquis of Worcester, and son-in-law to Henry O’Brien, Earl of Thomond. Of a family devoutly attached to the royal cause, to which it is said they had contributed not less than 200,000 pounds, Glamorgan’s religion, his rank, his Irish connections, the intimate confidence of the King which he was known to possess, all marked out his embassy as one of the utmost importance.
The story of this mission has been perplexed and darkened by many controversies. But the general verdict of historians seems now to be, that Charles I., whose many good qualities as a man and a ruler are cheerfully admitted on all hands, was yet utterly deficient in downright good faith; that duplicity was his besetting sin; and that Glamorgan’s embassy is one, but only one, of the strongest evidences of that ingrained duplicity.
It may help to the clearer understanding of the negotiations conducted by Glamorgan in Ireland, if we give in the first place the exact dates of the first transactions. The Earl arrived at Dublin about the 1st of August, and, after an interview with Ormond, proceeded to Kilkenny. On the 28th of that month, preliminary articles were agreed to and signed by the Earl on behalf of the King, and by Lords Mountgarrett and Muskerry on behalf of the Confederates. It was necessary, it seems, to get the concurrence of the Viceroy to these terms, and accordingly the negotiators on both sides repaired to Dublin. Here, Ormond contrived to detain them ten long weeks in discussions on the articles relating to religion; it was the 12th of November when they returned to Kilkenny, with a much modified treaty. On the next day, the 13th, the new Papal Nuncio, a prelate who, by his rank, his eloquence, and his imprudence, was destined to exercise a powerful influence on the Catholic councils, made his public entry into that city.
This personage was John Baptist Rinuccini, Archbishop of Fermo, in the Marches of Ancona, which see he had preferred to the more exalted dignity of Florence. By birth a Tuscan, the new Nuncio had distinguished himself from boyhood by his passionate attachment to his studies. At Bologna, at Perugia, and at Rome, his intense application brought him early honours, and early physical debility. His health, partially restored in the seclusion of his native valley of the Arno, enabled him to return again to Rome. Enjoying the confidence of Gregory XV. and Uban VIII., he was named successively, Clerk of the Chamber, Secretary of the Congregation of Rites, and Archbishop of Fermo. This was the prelate chosen by the new Pope, Innocent X., for the nunciature in Ireland: a man of noble birth, in the fifty-third year of his age, of uncertain bodily health, of great learning, especially as a canonist, of a fiery Italian temperament,—”regular and even austere in his life, and far from any taint of avarice or corruption,”—such was the admission of his enemies.
Leaving Italy in May, accompanied by the Dean of Fermo, who has left us a valuable record of the embassy, his other household officers, several Italian noblemen, and Sir Richard Belling, the special agent at Rome, the Nuncio, by way of Genoa and Marseilles, reached Paris. In France he was detained nearly five months, in a fruitless attempt to come to some definite arrangement as to the conduct of the Catholic war, through Queen Henrietta Maria, then resident with the young Prince of Wales—afterwards Charles II.—at the French court. The Queen, like most persons of her rank, overwhelmed with adversity, was often unreasonably suspicious and exacting. Her sharp woman’s tongue did not spare those on whom her anger fell, and there were not wanting those, who, apprehensive of the effect in England of her negotiating directly with a papal minister, did their utmost to delay or to break off their correspondence. A nice point of court etiquette further embarrassed the business. The Nuncio could not uncover his head before the Queen, and Henrietta would not receive him otherwise than uncovered. After three months lost in Paris, he was obliged to proceed on his journey, contenting himself with an exchange of complimentary messages with the Queen, whom even the crushing blow of Naseby could not induce to waive a point of etiquette with a Priest.
On reaching Rochelle, where he intended to take shipping, a further delay of six weeks took place, as was supposed by the machinations of Cardinal Mazarin. Finally, the Nuncio succeeded in purchasing a frigate of 26 guns, the San Pietro, on which he embarked with all his Italian suite, Sir Richard Belling, and several Franco-Irish officers. He had also on board a considerable sum in Spanish gold, (including another contribution of 36,000 dollars from Father Wadding,) 2,000 muskets, 2,000 cartouch belts, 4,000 swords, 2,000 pike heads, 400 brace of pistols, 20,000 pounds of powder, with match, shot, and other stores. Weighing from St. Martin’s in the Isle of Rhe, the San Pietro doubled the Land’s End, and stood over towards the Irish coast. The third day out they were chased for several hours by two Parliamentary cruisers, but escaped under cover of the night; on the fourth morning, being the 21st of October, they found themselves safely embayed in the waters of Kenmare, on the coast of Kerry.
The first intelligence which reached the Nuncio on landing, was the negotiation of Glamorgan, of which he had already heard, while waiting a ship at Rochelle. The next was the surrender by the Earl of Thomond, of his noble old castle of Bunratty, commanding the Shannon within six miles of Limerick, to the Puritans. This surrender had, however, determined the resolution of the city of Limerick, which hitherto had taken no part in the war, to open its gates to the Confederates. The loss of Bunratty was more than compensated by the gaining of one of the finest and strongest towns in Munster, and to Limerick accordingly the Nuncio paid the compliment of his first visit. Here he received the mitre of the diocese in dutiful submission from the hands of the Bishop, on entering the Cathedral; and here he celebrated a solemn requiem mass for the repose of the soul of the Archbishop of Tuam, lately slain before Sligo. Prom Limerick, borne along on his litter, such was the feebleness of his health, he advanced by slow stages to Kilkenny, escorted by a guard of honour, despatched on that duty, by the Supreme Council.
The pomp and splendour of his public entry into the Catholic capital was a striking spectacle. The previous night he slept at a village three miles from the city, for which he set out early on the morning of the 13th of November, escorted by his guard, and a vast multitude of the people. Five delegates from the Supreme Council accompanied him. A band of fifty students mounted on horseback met him on the way, and their leader, crowned with laurel, recited some congratulatory Latin verses. At the city gate he left the litter and mounted a horse richly housed; here the procession of the clergy and the city guilds awaited him; at the Market Cross, a Latin oration was delivered in his honour, to which he graciously replied in the same language. From the Cross he was escorted to the Cathedral, at the door of which he was received by the aged Bishop, Dr. David Rothe. At the high altar he intonated the Te Deum, and gave the multitude the apostolic benediction. Then he was conducted to his lodgings, where he was soon waited upon by Lord Muskerry and General Preston, who brought him to Kilkenny Castle, where, in the great gallery, which elicited even a Florentine’s admiration, he was received in stately formality by the President of the Council—Lord Mountgarrett. Another Latin oration on the nature of his embassy was delivered by the Nuncio, responded to by Heber, Bishop of Clogher, and so the ceremony of reception ended.
The Nuncio brought from Paris a new subject of difficulty, in the form of a memorial from the English Catholics at Rome, praying that they might be included in the terms of any peace which might be made by their Irish co-religionists with the King. Nothing could be more natural than that the members of the same persecuted church should make common cause, but nothing could be more impolitic than some of the demands made in the English memorial. They wished it to be stipulated with Charles, that he would allow a distinct military organization to the English and Irish Catholics in his service, under Catholic general officers, subject only to the King’s commands, meaning thereby, if they meant what they said, independence of all parliamentary and ministerial control. Yet several of the stipulations of this memorial were, after many modifications and discussions, adopted by Glamorgan into his original articles, and under the treaty thus ratified, the Confederates bound themselves to despatch 10,000 men, fully armed and equipped, to the relief of Chester and the general succour of the King in England. Towards the close of December, the English Earl, with two Commissioners from the Supreme Council, set forth for Dublin, to obtain the Viceroy’s sanction to the amended treaty. But in Dublin a singular counterplot in this perplexed drama awaited them. On St. Stephen’s day, while at dinner, Glamorgan was arrested by Ormond, on a charge of having exceeded his instructions, and confined a close prisoner in the castle. The gates of the city were closed, and every means taken to give eclat to this extraordinary proceeding. The Confederate Commissioners were carried to the castle, and told they might congratulate themselves on not sharing the cell prepared for Glamorgan. “Go back,” they were told, “to Kilkenny and tell the President of the Council, that the Protestants of England would fling the King’s person out at his window, if they believed it possible that he lent himself to such an undertaking.” The Commissioners accordingly went back and delivered their errand, with a full account of all the circumstances. Fortunately, the General Assembly had been called for an early day in January, 1646, at Kilkenny. When, therefore, they met, their first resolution was to despatch Sir Robert Talbot to the Viceroy, with a letter suspending all negotiations till the Earl of Glamorgan was set at liberty. By the end of January, on the joint bail, for 40,000 pounds, of the Earls of Clanrickarde and Kildare, the English envoy was enlarged, and, to the still further amazement of the simple-minded Catholics, on his arrival at Kilkenny, he justified rather than censured the action of Ormond. To most observers it appeared that these noblemen understood each other only too well.
From January till June, Kilkenny was delivered over to cabals, intrigues, and recriminations. There was an “old Irish party,” to which the Nuncio inclined, and an “Anglo-Irish party,” headed by Mountgarrett and the majority of the Council. The former stigmatized the latter as Ormondists, and the latter retorted on them with the name of the Nuncio’s party. In February came news of a foreign treaty made at Rome between Sir Kenelm Digby and the Pope’s Ministers, most favourable to the English and Irish Catholics. On the 28th of March, a final modification of Glamorgan’s articles, reduced to thirty in number, was signed by Ormond for the King, and Lord Muskerry and the other Commissioners for the Confederates. These thirty articles conceded, in fact, all the most essential claims of the Irish; they secured them equal rights as to property, in the Army, in the Universities, and at the Bar; they gave them seats in both Houses and on the Bench; they authorized a special commission of Oyer and Terminer, composed wholly of Confederates; they declared that “the independency of the Parliament of Ireland on that of England,” should be decided by declaration of both Houses “agreeably to the laws of the Kingdom of Ireland.” In short, this final form of Glamorgan’s treaty gave the Irish Catholics, in 1646, all that was subsequently obtained either for the church or the country, in 1782, 1793, or 1829. Though some conditions were omitted, to which Rinuccini and a majority of the Prelates attached importance, Glamorgan’s treaty was, upon the whole, a charter upon which a free church and a free people might well have stood, as the fundamental law of their religious and civil liberties.
The treaty, thus concluded at the end of March, was to lie as an escroll in the hands of the Marquis of Clanrickarde till the 1st of May, awaiting Sir Kenelm Digby with the Roman protocol. And then, not withstanding the dissuasions of Rinuccini to the contrary, it was to be kept secret from the world, though some of its obligations were expected to be at once fulfilled, on their side, by the Catholics. The Supreme Council, ever eager to exhibit their loyalty, gathered together 6,000 troops for the relief of Chester and the service of the King in England, so soon as both treaties—the Irish and the Roman—should be signed by Charles. While so waiting, they besieged and took Bunratty castle—already referred to—but Sir Kenelm Digby did not arrive with May, and they now learned, to their renewed amazement, that Glamorgan’s whole negotiation was disclaimed by the King in England. In the same interval Chester fell, and the King was obliged to throw himself into the hands of the Scottish Parliament, who surrendered him for a price to their English coadjutors. These tidings reached Ireland during May, and, varied with the capture of an occasional fortress, lost or won, occupied all men’s minds. But the first days of June were destined to bring with them a victory of national—of European importance—won by Owen O’Neil, in the immediate vicinity of his grand-uncle’s famous battle-field of the Yellow Ford.
During these three years of intrigue and negotiation, the position of General O’Neil was hazardous and difficult in the extreme. One campaign he had served under a stranger, as second on his own soil. In the other two he was fettered by the terms of “cessation” to his own quarters; and to add to his embarrassments, his impetuous kinsman Sir Phelim, brave, rash, and ambitious, recently married to a daughter of his ungenerous rival, General Preston, was incited to thwart and obstruct him amongst their mutual clansmen and connections. The only recompense which seems to have been awarded to him, was the confidence of the Nuncio, who, either from that knowledge of character in which the Italians excel, or from bias received from some other source, at once singled him out as the man of his people. What portion of the Nuncio’s supplies reached the Northern General we know not, but in the beginning of June, he felt himself in a position to bring on an engagement with Monroe, who, lately reinforced by both Parliaments, had marched out of Carrickfergus into Tyrone, with a view of penetrating as far south as Kilkenny. On the 4th day of June, the two armies encountered at Benburb, on the little river Blackwater, about six miles north of Armagh, and the most signal victory of the war came to recompense the long-enduring patience of O’Neil.
The battle of Benburb has been often and well described. In a naturally strong position—with this leader the choice of ground seems to have been a first consideration —the Irish, for four hours, received and repulsed the various charges of the Puritan horse. Then as the sun began to descend, pouring its rays upon the opposing force, O’Neil led his whole force—five thousand men against eight—to the attack. One terrible onset swept away every trace of resistance. There were counted on the field, 3,243 of the Covenanters, and of the Catholics, but 70 killed and 100 wounded. Lord Ardes, and 21 Scottish officers, 32 standards, 1,500 draught horses, and all the guns and tents, were captured. Monroe fled in panic to Lisburn, and thence to Carrickfergus, where he shut himself up, till he could obtain reinforcements. O’Neil forwarded the captured colours to the Nuncio, at Limerick, by whom they were solemnly placed in the choir of St. Mary’s Cathedral, and afterwards, at the request of Pope Innocent, sent to Rome. Te Deum was chanted in the Confederate Capital; penitential psalms were sung in the Northern fortress. “The Lord of Hosts,” wrote Monroe, “had rubbed shame on our faces, till once we are humbled;” O’Neil emblazoned the cross and keys on his banner with the Red Hand of Ulster, and openly resumed the title originally chosen by his adherents at Clones, “the Catholic Army.”
FROM THE BATTLE OF BENBURB TILL THE LANDING OF CROMWELL AT DUBLIN.
The Nuncio, elated by the great victory of O’Neil, to which he felt he had personally contributed by his seasonable supplies, provoked and irritated by Ormond’s intrigues and the King’s insincerity, rushed with all the ardour of his character into making the war an uncompromising Catholic crusade. In this line of conduct, he was supported by the Archbishops of Dublin and Cashel, by ten of the Bishops, including the eminent Prelates of Limerick, Killalla, Ferns, and Clogher; the Procurator of Armagh; nine Vicars-general, and the Superiors of the Jesuits, Dominicans, Franciscans, and Augustinians. The peace party, on the other hand, were not without clerical adherents, but they were inconsiderable, as to influence and numbers. They were now become as anxious to publish the Thirty Articles agreed upon at the end of March, as they then were to keep them secret. Accordingly, with Ormond’s consent, copies of the treaty were sent early in August to the sheriffs of counties, mayors of cities, and other leading persons, with instructions to proclaim it publicly in due form; upon hearing which, the Nuncio and his supporters of the clergy, secular and regular, assembled in council at Waterford, on the 12th of August, solemnly declared that they gave no consent, and would not, “to any peace,” that did not grant “further, surer, and safer considerations for their religion, king, and country,” according to the original oath of the Confederacy.
The rupture between the clergy and the laymen of the Council was now complete. The prelates who signed the decree of Waterford, of course, thereby withdrew from the body whose action they condemned. In vain the learned Darcy and the eloquent Plunkett went to and fro between the two bodies: concord and confidence were at an end. The synod decided to address Lord Mountgarrett in future as President of “the late Supreme Council.” The heralds who attempted to publish the Thirty Articles in Clonmel and Waterford were hooted or stoned; while in Limerick the mayor, endeavouring to protect them, shared this rough usage. Ormond, who was at Kilkenny at the critical moment of the breach, did his utmost to sustain the resolution of those who were stigmatized by his name; while the Nuncio, suspicious of Preston, wrote urgently to O’Neil to lead his army into Leinster, and remove the remnant of the late council from Kilkenny. All that those who held a middle course between the extremes could do, was to advocate an early meeting of the General Assembly; but various exigencies delayed this much-desired meeting, till the 10th day of January, 1647.
The five intervening months were months of triumph for Rinuccini. Lord Digby appeared at Dublin as a special agent from the King, to declare his consent to Glamorgan’s original terms; but Ormond still insisted that he had no authority to go beyond the Thirty Articles. Charles himself wrote privately to Rinuccini, promising to confirm everything which Glamorgan had proposed, as soon as he should come into “the Nuncio’s hands.” Ormond, after a fruitless attempt to convert O’Neil to his views, had marched southward with a guard of 1,500 foot, and 500 horse, to endeavour to conciliate the towns, and to win over the Earl of Inchiquin. In both these objects he failed. He found O’Neil before him in his county palatinate of Tipperary, and the Mayor of Cashel informed him that he dared not allow him into that city, for fear of displeasing the northern general. Finding himself thus unexpectedly within a few miles of “the Catholic Army,” 10,000 strong, the Viceroy retreated precipitately through Kilkenny, Carlow, and Kildare, to Dublin. Lord Digby, who had accompanied him, after an unsuccessful attempt to cajole the Synod of Waterford, made the best of his way back to France; the Marquis of Clanrickarde, who had also been of the expedition, shared the flight of Ormond. Towards the middle of September, O’Neil’s army, after capturing Roscrea Castle, marched to Kilkenny, and encamped near that city. His forces had now augmented to 12,000 foot, and 1,500 horse; on the 18th of the month, he escorted the Nuncio in triumph into Kilkenny, where the Ormondist members of the old council were committed to close custody in the castle. A new council, of four bishops and eight laymen, was established on the 26th, with the Nuncio as president; Glamorgan succeeded Castlehaven, who had gone over to Ormond, as commander in Munster; while O’Neil and Preston were ordered to unite their forces for the siege of Dublin. The sanguine Italian dreamt of nothing less, for the moment, than the creation of Viceroys, the deliverance of the King, and the complete restoration of the ancient religion.
O’Neil and Preston, by different routes, on which they were delayed in taking several garrisoned posts, united at Lucan in the valley of the Liffey, seven miles west of Dublin, on the 9th of November. Their joint forces are represented at 16,000 foot, and 1,600 horse—of which Preston had about one-third, and O’Neil the remainder. Preston’s head-quarters were fixed at Leixlip, and O’Neil’s at Newcastle—points equi-distant, and each within two hours’ march of the capital. Within the walls of that city there reigned the utmost consternation. Many of the inhabitants fled beyond seas, terrified by the fancied cruelty of the Ulstermen. But Ormond retained all his presence of mind, and readiness of resources. He entered, at first covertly, into arrangements with the Parliamentarians, who sent him a supply of powder; he wrote urgently to Monroe to make a diversion in his favour; he demolished the mills and suburbs which might cover the approaches of the enemy; he employed soldiers, civilians, and even women, upon the fortifications,— Lady Ormond setting an example to her sex, in rendering her feeble assistance. Clanrickarde, in Preston’s tent, was doing the work of stimulating the old antipathy of that general towards O’Neil, which led to conflicting advices in Council, and some irritating personal altercations. To add to the Confederate embarrassment, the winter was the most severe known for many years; from twenty to thirty sentinels being frozen at night at their posts. On the 13th of November, while the plan of the Confederate attack was still undecided, commissioners of the Parliament arrived, with ample stores, in Dublin Bay. On the next day they landed at Ringsend, and entered into negotiations with Ormond; on the 16th the siege was raised, and on the 23rd Ormond broke off the treaty, having unconsciously saved Dublin from the Confederates, by the incorrect reports of supplies being received, which were finally carried northward to Monroe.
The month of January brought the meeting of the General Assembly. The attendance in the great gallery of Ormond Castle was as large, and the circumstances upon the whole as auspicious as could be desired, in the seventh year of such a struggle. The members of the old council, liberated from arrest, were in their places. O’Neil and Preston, publicly reconciled, had signed a solemn engagement to assist and sustain each other. The Nuncio, the Primate of Ireland, and eleven bishops took their seats; the peers of oldest title in the kingdom were present; two hundred and twenty-four members represented the Commons of Ireland, and among the spectators sat the ambassadors of France and Spain, and of King Charles. The main subject of discussion was the sufficiency of the Thirty Articles, and the propriety of the ecclesiastical censure promulgated against those who had signed them. The debate embraced all that may be said on the question of clerical interference in political affairs, on conditional and unconditional allegiance, on the power of the Pontiff speaking ex cathedra, and the prerogatives of the temporal sovereign. It was protracted through an entire month, and ended with a compromise, which declared that the Commissioners had acted in good faith in signing the articles, while it justified the Synod of Waterford for having, as judges of the nature and intent of the oath of Confederation, declared them insufficient and unacceptable. A new oath of Confederacy, solemnly binding the associates not to lay down their arms till they had established the free and public exercise of religion as it had existed in the reign of Henry VII., was framed and taken by the entire General Assembly; the Thirty Articles were declared insufficient and unacceptable by all but a minority of twelve votes; a new Supreme Council of twenty-four was chosen, in whom there were not known to be above four or five partisans of Ormond’s policy. The church plate throughout the kingdom was ordered to be coined into money, and a formal proposal to co-operate with the Viceroy on the basis of the new oath was made, but instantly rejected; among other grounds, on this, that the Marquis had, at that moment, his son and and other sureties with the Puritans who, in the last resort, he infinitely preferred to the Roman Catholics.
The military events of the year 1647 were much more decisive than its politics. Glamorgan still commanded in Munster, Preston in Leinster, and O’Neil in both Ulster and Connaught. The first was confronted by Inchiquin, at the head of a corps of 5,000 foot and 1,500 horse, equipped and supplied by the English Puritans; the second saw the garrisons of Dundalk, Drogheda, and Dublin, reinforced by fresh regiments of Covenanters, and fed by Parliamentary supplies from the sea; the latter was in the heart of Connaught, organizing and recruiting and attempting all things within his reach, but hampered for money, clothing and ammunition. In Connaught, O’Neil was soon joined by the Nuncio, who, as difficulties thickened, began to lean more and more on the strong arm of the victor of Benburb; in Munster, the army refused to follow the lead of Glamorgan, and clamoured for their old chief, Lord Muskerry; finally, that division of the national troops was committed by the Council to Lord Taafe, a politician of the school of Ormond and Clanrickarde, wholly destitute of military experience. The vigorous Inchiquin had little difficulty in dealing with such an antagonist; Cashel was taken without a blow in its defence, and a slaughter unparalleled till the days of Drogheda and Wexford, deluged its streets and churches. At Knocknos, later in the autumn (Nov. 12th), Taafe was utterly routed; the gallant Colkitto, serving under him, lamentably sacrificed after surrendering his sword; and Inchiquin enabled to dictate a cessation covering Munster—far less favourable to Catholics than the truce of Castlemartin —to the Supreme Council. This truce was signed at Dungarvan, on the 20th of May, 1648, and on the 27th the Nuncio published his solemn decree of excommunication against all its aiders and abettors, and himself made the best of his way from Kilkenny to Maryboro’, where O’Neil then lay.
The military and political situation of O’Neil, during the latter months of 1647 and the whole of 1648, was one of the most extraordinary in which any general had ever been placed. His late sworn colleague, Preston, was now combined with Inchiquin against him; the royalist Clanrickarde, in the western counties, pressed upon his rear, and captured his garrison in Athlone; the Parliamentary general, Michael Jones, to whom Ormond had finally surrendered Dublin, observed rather than impeded his movements in Leinster; the lay majority of the Supreme Council proclaimed him a traitor—a compliment which he fully returned; the Nuncio threw himself wholly into his hands; finally, at the close of ’48, Ormond, returning from France to Ireland, concluded, on the 17th of January, a formal alliance with the lay members, under the title of “Commissioners of Trust,” for the King and Kingdom; and Rinuccini, despairing, perhaps, of a cause so distracted, sailed in his own frigate, from Galway, on the 23rd of February. Thus did the actors change their parts, alternately triumphing and fleeing for safety. The verdict of history may condemn the Nuncio, of whom we have now seen the last, for his imperious self-will, and his too ready recourse to ecclesiastical censures; but of his zeal, his probity, and his disinterestedness, there can be, we think, no second opinion.
Under the treaty of 1649—which conceded full civil and religious equality to the Roman Catholics—Ormond was once more placed at the head of the government and in command of the royal troops. A few days after the signing of that treaty, news of the execution of Charles I. having reached Ireland, the Viceroy proclaimed the Prince of Wales by the title of Charles II., at Cork and Youghal. Prince Rupert, whose fleet had entered Kinsale, caused the same ceremony to be gone through in that ancient borough. With Ormond were now cordially united Preston, Inchiquin, Clanrickarde, and Muskerry, on whom the lead of the Supreme Council devolved, in consequence of the advanced age of Lord Mountgarrett, and the remainder of the twelve Commissioners of Trust. The cause of the young Prince, an exile, the son of that Catholic queen from whom they had expected so much, was far from unpopular in the southern half of the island. The Anglican interest was strong and widely diffused through both Leinster and Munster; and, except a resolute prelate, like Dr. French, Bishop of Ferns, or a brave band of townsmen like those of Waterford, Limerick, and Galway, or some remnant of mountain tribes, in Wicklow and Tipperary, the national, or “old Irish policy,” had decidedly lost ground from the hour of the Nuncio’s departure.
Owen O’Neil and the Bishops still adhered to that national policy. The former made a three-months’ truce with General Monck, who had succeeded Monroe in the command of all the Parliamentary troops in his province. The singular spectacle was even exhibited of Monck forwarding supplies to O’Neil, to be used against Inchiquin and Ormond, and O’Neil coining to the rescue of Coote, and raising for him the siege of Londonderry. Inchiquin, in rapid succession, took Drogheda, Trim, Dundalk, Newry, and then rapidly countermarched to join Ormond in besieging Dublin. At Rathmines, near the city, both generals were surprised and defeated by the Parliamentarians under Michael Jones. Between desertions, and killed and wounded, they lost, by their own account, nearly 3,000, and by the Puritan accounts, above 5,000 men. This action was the virtual close of Ormond’s military career; he never after made head against the Parliamentary forces in open field. The Catholic cities of Limerick and Galway refused to admit his garrisons; a synod of the Bishops, assembled at Jamestown (in Roscommon), strongly recommended his withdrawal from the kingdom; and Cromwell had arrived, resolved to finish the war in a single campaign. Ormond sailed again for France, before the end of 1649, to return no more until the restoration of the monarchy, on the death of the great Protector.
An actor was now to descend upon the scene, whose character has excited more controversy than that of any other personage of those times. Honoured as a saint, or reprobated as a hypocrite, worshipped for his extraordinary successes, or anathematized for the unworthy artifices by which he rose—who shall deal out, with equal hand, praise and blame to Oliver Cromwell’? Not for the popular writer of Irish history, is that difficult judicial task. Not for us to re-echo cries of hatred which convince not the indifferent, nor correct the errors of the educated or cultivated: the simple, and, as far as possible, the unimpassioned narrative of facts, will constitute the whole of our duty towards the Protector’s campaign in Ireland.
Cromwell left London in great state, early in July, “in a coach drawn by six gallant Flanders mares,” and made a sort of royal procession across the country to Bristol. From that famous port, where Strongbow confederated with Dermid McMurrogh, and from which Dublin drew its first Anglo-Norman colony, he went on to Milford Haven, at which he embarked, arriving in Dublin on the 15th of August. He entered the city in procession, and addressed the townsfolk from “a convenient place.” He had with him two hundred thousand pounds in money, eight regiments of foot, six of horse, and some troops of dragoons; besides the divisions of Jones and Monck, already in the country, and subject to his command. Among the officers were names of memorable interest—Henry Cromwell, second son of the Protector, and future Lord Deputy; Monck, Blake, Jones, Ireton, Ludlow, Hardress Waller, Sankey, and others equally prominent in accomplishing the King’s death, or in raising up the English commonwealth.
Cromwell’s command in Ireland extends from the middle of August, 1649, to the end of May, 1650, about nine months in all, and is remarkable for the number of sieges of walled towns crowded into that brief period. There was, during the whole time, no great action in the field, like Marston Moor, or Benburb, or Dunbar; it was a campaign of seventeenth century cannon against mediaeval masonry; what else was done, was the supplemental work of mutual bravery on both sides. Drogheda, Dundalk, Newry, and Carlingford fell in September; Arklow, Enniscorthy, and Wexford in October; Ross, one of the first seaports in point of commerce, surrendered the same month; Waterford was attempted and abandoned in November; Dungarvan, Kinsale, Bandon, and Cork were won over by Lord Broghill in December; Fethard, Callan, and Cashel in January and February; Carrick and Kilkenny in March; and Clonmel, early in May. Immediately after this last capitulation, Cromwell was recalled to lead the armies of the Parliament into Scotland: during the nine months he had commanded in Ireland, he had captured five or six county capitals, and a great number of less considerable places. The terror of his siege-trains and Ironsides was spread over the greater part of three Provinces, and his well-reported successes had proved so many steps to the assumption of that sovereign power at which he already aimed.
Of the spirit in which these several sieges were conducted, it is impossible to speak without a shudder. It was, in truth, a spirit of hatred and fanaticism, altogether beyond the control of the revolutionary leader. At Drogheda, the work of slaughter occupied five entire days. Of the brave garrison of 3,000 men, not thirty were spared, and these, “were in hands for the Barbadoes;” old men, women, children and priests, were unsparingly put to the sword. Wexford was basely betrayed by Captain James Stafford, commander of the castle, whose midnight interview with Cromwell, at a petty rivulet without the walls, tradition still recounts with horror and detestation. This port was particularly obnoxious to the Parliament, as from its advantageous position on the Bristol channel, its cruisers greatly annoyed and embarrassed their commerce. “There are,” Cromwell writes to Speaker Lenthall, “great quantities of iron, hides, tallow, salt, pipe and barrel staves, which are under commissioners’ hands to be secured. We believe there are near a hundred cannon in the fort and elsewhere in and about the town. Here is likewise some very good shipping; here are three vessels, one of them of thirty-four guns, which a week’s time would fit for sea; there is another of about twenty guns, very nearly ready likewise.” He also reports two other frigates, one on the stocks, which “for her handsomeness’ sake” he intended to have finished for the Parliament, and another “most excellent vessel for sailing,” taken within the fort, at the harbour’s mouth. By the treachery of Captain Stafford, this strong and wealthy town was at the mercy of those “soldiers of the Lord and of Gideon,” who had followed Oliver to his Irish wars. The consequences were the same as at Drogheda— merciless execution on the garrison and the inhabitants.
In the third month of Cromwell’s campaign, the report of Owen O’Neil’s death went abroad, palsying the Catholic arms. By common consent of friend and foe, he was considered the ablest civil and military leader that had appeared in Ireland during the reigns of the Stuart kings. Whether in native ability he was capable of coping with Cromwell, was for a long time a subject of discussion; but the consciousness of irreparable national loss, perhaps, never struck deeper than amid the crash of that irresistible cannonade of the walled towns and cities of Leinster and Munster. O’Neil had lately, despairing of binding the Scots or the English, distrustful alike of Coote and of Monck, been reconciled to Ormond, and was marching southward to his aid at the head of 6,000 chosen men. Lord Chancellor Clarendon assures us that Ormond had the highest hopes from this junction, and the utmost confidence in O’Neil’s abilities. But at a ball at Derry, towards the end of August, he received his death, it is said, in a pair of poisoned russet leather slippers presented to him by one Plunkett; marching southward, borne in a litter, he expired at Clough Oughter Castle, near his old Belturbet camp, on the 6th of November, 1649. His last act was to order one of his nephews—Hugh O’Neil—to form a junction with Ormond in Munster without delay. In the chancel of the Franciscan Abbey of Cavan, now grass-grown and trodden by the hoofs of cattle, his body was interred; his nephew and successor did honour to his memory at Clonmel and Limerick. It was now remembered, even by his enemies, with astonishment and admiration, how for seven long years he had subsisted and kept together an army, the creature of his genius; without a government at his back, without regular supplies, enforcing obedience, establishing discipline, winning great victories, maintaining, even at the worst, a native power in the heart of the kingdom. When the archives of those years are recovered (if they ever are), no name more illustrious for the combination of great qualities will be found preserved there than the name of this last national leader of the illustrious lineage of O’Neil.
The unexpected death of the Ulster general favoured still farther Cromwell’s southern movements. The gallant, but impetuous Bishop of Clogher, Heber McMahon, was the only northern leader who could command confidence enough to keep O’Neil’s force together, and on him, therefore, the command devolved. O’Ferrall, one of Owen’s favourite officers, was despatched to Waterford, and mainly contributed to Cromwell’s repulse before that city; Hugh O’Neil covered himself with glory at Clonmel and Limerick; Daniel O’Neil, another nephew of Owen, remained attached to Ormond, and accompanied him to France; but within six months from the loss of their Fabian chief, who knew as well when to strike as to delay, the brave Bishop of Clogher sacrificed the remnant of “the Catholic Army” at the pass of Scariffhollis, in Donegal, and, two days after, his own life by a martyr’s death, at Omagh. At the date of Cromwell’s departure—when Ireton took command of the southern army—there remained to the Confederates only some remote glens and highlands of the North and West, the cities of Limerick and Galway, with the county of Clare, and some detached districts of the province of Connaught.
The last act of Cromwell’s proper campaign was the siege of Clonmel, where he met the stoutest resistance he had anywhere encountered. The Puritans, after effecting a breach, made an attempt to enter, chanting one of their scriptural battle-songs. They were, by their own account, “obliged to give back a while,” and finally night settled down upon the scene. The following day, finding the place no longer tenable, the garrison silently withdrew to Waterford, and subsequently to Limerick. The inhabitants demanded a parley, which was granted; and Cromwell takes credit, and deserves it, when we consider the men he had to humour, for having kept conditions with them.
From before Clonmel he returned at once to England, where he was received with royal honours. All London turned out to meet the Conqueror who had wiped out the humiliation of Benburb, and humbled the pride of the detested Papists. He was lodged in the palace of the king, and chosen “Captain-general of all the forces raised, or to be raised, by the authority of the Parliament of England.”
CLOSE OF THE CONFEDERATE WAR.
The tenth year of the contest of which we have endeavoured to follow the most important events, opened upon the remaining Catholic leaders, greatly reduced in numbers and resources, but firm and undismayed. Two chief seaports, and some of the western counties still remained to them; and accordingly we find meetings of the Bishops and other notables during this year (1650), at Limerick, at Loughrea, and finally at Jamestown, in the neighbourhood of Owen O’Neil’s nursery of the first “Catholic Army.”
The Puritan commander was now Henry Ireton, son-in-law of Cromwell, by a marriage contracted about two years before. The completion of the Protector’s policy could have devolved upon few persons more capable of understanding, or more fearless in executing it; and in two eventful campaigns he proved himself the able successor of the Protector. In August following Cromwell’s departure, Waterford and Duncannon were taken by Ireton; and there only remained to the Confederates the fortresses of Sligo, Athlone, Limerick, and Galway, with the country included within the irregular quadrangle they describe. The younger Coote making a feint against Sligo, which Clanrickarde hastened to defend, turned suddenly on his steps, and surprised Athlone. Sligo, naturally a place of no great strength after the invention of artillery, soon after fell, so that Galway and Limerick alone were left, at the beginning of 1651, to bear all the brunt of Puritan hostility.
Political events of great interest happened during the two short years of Ireton’s command. The Assembly, which met at Jamestown in August, and again at Loughrea in November, 1650, made the retirement of Ormond from the Government a condition of all future efforts in the royal cause, and that nobleman, deeply wounded by this condition, had finally sailed from Galway, in December, leaving to Clanrickarde the title of Lord Deputy, and to Castlehaven the command of the forces which still kept the field. The news from Scotland of the young king’s subscription to the covenant, and denunciation of all terms with Irish Papists, came to aid the councils of those, who, like the eloquent French, Bishop of Ferns, demanded a national policy, irrespective of the exigencies of the Stuart family. An embassy was accordingly despatched to Brussels, to offer the title of King-Protector to the Duke of Lorraine, or failing with him, to treat with any “other Catholic prince, state, republic, or person, as they might deem expedient for the preservation of the Catholic religion and nation.” A wide latitude, dictated by desperate circumstances. The ambassadors were Bishop French and Hugh Rochfort; the embassy one of the most curious and instructive in our annals.
The Duke expressed himself willing to undertake an expedition to Ireland—to supply arms and money to the Confederates—on the condition of receiving Athlone, Limerick, Athenry and Galway into his custody, with the title of Protector. A considerable sum of money (20,000 pounds) was forwarded at once; four Belgian frigates laden with stores were made ready for sea; the Canon De Henin was sent as envoy to the Confederates, and this last venture looked most promising of success, had not Clanrickarde in Galway, and Charles and Ormond in Paris, taking alarm at the new dignity conferred upon the Duke, countermined the Bishop of Ferns and Mr. Rochfort, and defeated by intrigue and correspondence their hopeful enterprise.
The decisive battle of Worcester, fought on the 3rd of September, 1651, drove Charles II. into that nine years’ exile, from which he only returned on the death of Cromwell. It may be considered the last military event of importance in the English civil war. In Ireland the contest was destined to drag out another campaign, before the walls of the two gallant cities, Galway and Limerick.
Limerick was the first object of attack. Ireton, leaving Sankey to administer martial law in Tipperary, struck the Shannon opposite Killaloe, driving Castlehaven before him. Joined by Coote and Reynolds, fresh from the sieges of Athenry and Athlone, he moved upon Limerick by the Connaught bank of the river, while Castlehaven fled to Clanrickarde in Galway, with a guard of forty horse, all that remained intact of the 4,000 men bequeathed him by Ormond. From the side of Munster, Lord Muskerry attempted a diversion in favour of Limerick, but was repulsed at Castleishen, by “the flying camp” of Lord Broghill. The besiegers were thus not only delivered of a danger, but reinforced by native troops—if the “Undertakers” could be properly called so—which made them the most formidable army that had ever surrounded an Irish city. From early summer till the last week of October, the main force of the English and Anglo-Irish, supplied with every species of arm then invented, assailed the walls of Limerick. The plague, which during these months swept with such fearful mortality over the whole kingdom, struck down its defenders, and filled all its streets with desolation and grief. The heroic bishops, O’Brien of Emly, and O’Dwyer of Limerick, exerted themselves to uphold, by religious exhortations, the confidence of the besieged; while Hugh O’Neil and General Purcell maintained the courage of their men. Clanrickarde had offered to charge himself with the command, but the citizens preferred to trust in the skill and determination of the defender of Clonmel, whose very name was a talisman among them. The municipal government, however, composed of the men of property in the city, men whose trade was not war, whose religion was not enthusiastic, formed a third party,—a party in favour of peace at any price. With the Mayor at their head, they openly encouraged the surrender of one of the outworks to the besiegers, and this betrayal, on the 27th of October, compelled the surrender of the entire works. Thus Limerick fell, divided within itself by military, clerical, and municipal factions; thus glory and misfortune combined to consecrate its name in the national veneration, and the general memory of mankind. The Bishop of Emly and General Purcell were executed as traitors; the Bishop of Limerick escaped in the disguise of a common soldier, and died at Brussels; O’Neil’s life was saved by a single vote; Sir Geoffrey Gabney, Aldermen Stritch and Fanning, and other leading Confederates, expiated their devotion upon the scaffold.
On the 12th of May following—seven months after the capture of Limerick, Galway fell. Ireton, who survived the former siege but a few days, was succeeded by Ludlow, a sincere republican of the school of Pym and Hampden—if that school can be called, in our modern sense, republican. It was the sad privilege of General Preston, whose name is associated with so many of the darkest, and with some of the brightest incidents of this war, to order the surrender of Galway, as he had two years previously given up Waterford. Thus the last open port, the last considerable town held by the Confederates, yielded to the overwhelming power of numbers and munitions, in the twelfth year of that illustrious war which Ireland waged for her religious and civil liberties, against the forces of the two adjoining kingdoms, sometimes estranged from one another, but always hostile alike to the religious belief and the political independence of the Irish people.
With the fall of Galway, the Confederate war drew rapidly to a close. Colonels Fitzpatrick, O’Dwyer, Grace, and Thorlogh O’Neil, surrendered their posts; Lords Enniskillen and West-Meath followed their example; Lord Muskerry yielded Ross Castle, on Killarney, in June; Clanrickarde laid down his arms at Carrick, in October. The usual terms granted were liberty to transport themselves and followers to the service of any foreign state or prince at peace with the commonwealth; a favoured few were permitted to live and die in peace on their own estates, under the watchful eye of some neighbouring garrison.
The chief actors in the Confederate war not already accounted for, terminated their days under many different circumstances. Mountgarrett and Bishop Rothe died before Galway fell, and were buried in the capital of the Confederacy; Bishop McMahon of Clogher, surrendered to Sir Charles Coote, and was executed like a felon by one he had saved from destruction a year before at Derry; Coote, after the Restoration, became Earl of Mountrath, and Broghill, Earl of Orrery; Clanrickarde died unnoticed on his English estate, under the Protectorate; Inchiquin, after many adventures in foreign lands, turned Catholic in his old age, and this burner of churches bequeathed an annual alms for masses for his soul; Jones, Corbet, Cook, and the fanatical preacher, Hugh Peters, perished on the scaffold with the other regicides executed by order of the English Parliament; Ormond having shared the evils of exile with the King, shared also the splendour of his restoration, became a Duke, and took his place, as if by common consent, at the head of the peerage of the empire; his Irish rental, which before the war was but 7,000 pounds a year, swelled suddenly on the Restoration to 80,000 pounds; Nicholas French, after some sojourn in Spain, where he was coadjutor to the Archbishop of Saint James, returned to Louvain, where he made his first studies, and there spent the evening of his days in the composition of those powerful pamphlets which kept alive the Irish cause at home and on the continent; a Roman patrician did the honours of sepulture to Luke Wadding, and Cromwell interred James Usher in Westminster Abbey; the heroic defender of Clonmel and Limerick, and the gallant, though vacillating Preston, were cordially received in France; while the consistent republican, Ludlow, took refuge as a fugitive in Switzerland.
Sir Phelim O’Neil, the first author of the war, was among the last to suffer the penalties of defeat. For a moment, towards the end, he renewed his sway over the remnant of Owen’s soldiers, took Ballyshannon, and two or three other places. Compelled at last to surrender, he was carried to Dublin, and tried on a charge of treason, a committee closeted behind the bench dictating the interrogatories to his judges, and receiving his answers in reply. Condemned to death, as was expected, he was offered his life by the Puritan colonel, Hewson, on the very steps of the scaffold, if he would inculpate the late King Charles in the rising of 1641. This he “stoutly refused to do,” and the execution proceeded with all its atrocious details. Whatever may have been the excesses committed under his command by a plundered people, at their first insurrection—and we know that they have been exaggerated beyond all bounds—it must be admitted he died the death of a Christian, a soldier, and a gentleman.
IRELAND UNDER THE PROTECTORATE—ADMINISTRATION OF HENRY CROMWELL—DEATH OF OLIVER.
The English republic rose from the scaffold of the King, in 1649; its first government was a “Council of State” of forty-one members; under this council, Cromwell held at first the title of Lord General; but, on the 16th December, 1653, he was solemnly installed, in Westminster Hall, as “Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland.” He was then in his fifty-fourth year; his reign—if such it may be called—lasted less than five years.
The policy of the Protector towards Ireland is even less defensible than his military severities. For the barbarities of war there may be some apology, the poor one at least that such outrages are inseparable from war itself; but for the cold-blooded, deliberate atrocities of peace, no such defence can be permitted before the tribunal of a free posterity.
The Long Parliament, still dragging out its date, under the shadow of Cromwell’s great name, declared in its session of 1652, the rebellion in Ireland “subdued and ended,” and proceeded to legislate for that kingdom as a conquered country. On the 12th of August, they passed their Act of Settlement, the authorship of which was attributed to Lord Orrery, in this respect the worthy son of the first Earl of Cork. Under this Act, there were four chief descriptions of persons whose status was thus settled: 1st. All ecclesiastics and royalist proprietors were exempted from pardon of life or estate. 2nd. All royalist commissioned officers were condemned to banishment, and the forfeit of two-thirds of their property, one-third being retained for the support of their wives and children. 3rd. Those who had not been in arms, but could be shown, by a Parliamentary commission, to have manifested “a constant, good affection” to the war, were to forfeit one-third of their estates, and receive “an equivalent” for the remaining two-thirds west of the Shannon. 4th. All husbandmen and others of the inferior sort, “not possessed of lands or goods exceeding the value of 10 pounds,” were to have a free pardon, on condition also of transporting themselves across the Shannon.
This last condition of the Cromwellian settlement distinguished it, in our annals, from every other proscription of the native population formerly attempted. The great river of Ireland, rising in the mountains of Leitrim, nearly severs the five western counties from the rest of the kingdom. The province thus set apart, though one of the largest in superficial extent, had also the largest proportion of waste and water, mountain and moorland. The new inhabitants were there to congregate from all the other provinces before the 1st day of May, 1654, under penalty of outlawry and all its consequences; and when there, they were not to appear within two miles of the Shannon or four miles of the sea. A rigorous passport system, to evade which was death without form of trial, completed this settlement, the design of which was to shut up the remaining Catholic inhabitants from all intercourse with mankind, and all communion with the other inhabitants of their own country.
A new survey of the whole kingdom was also ordered, under the direction of Dr. William Petty, the fortunate economist, who founded the house of Lansdowne. By him the surface of the kingdom was estimated at ten millions and a half plantation acres, three of which were deducted for waste and water. Of the remainder, above 5,000,000 were in Catholic hands in 1641; 300,000 were church and college lands; and 2,000,000 were in possession of the Protestant settlers of the reigns of James and Elizabeth. Under the Protectorate, 5,000,000 acres were confiscate; this enormous spoil, two-thirds of the whole island, went to the soldiers and adventurers who had served against the Irish, or had contributed to the military chest, since 1641—except 700,000 acres given in “exchange” to the banished in Clare and Connaught; and 1,200,000 confirmed to “innocent Papists.” Such was the complete uprooting of the ancient tenantry or clansmen, from their original holdings, that during the survey, orders of Parliament were issued to bring back individuals from Connaught to point out the boundaries of parishes in Munster. It cannot be imputed among the sins so freely laid to the historical account of the native legislature, that an Irish parliament had any share in sanctioning this universal spoliation. Cromwell anticipated the union of the kingdoms by a hundred and fifty years, when he summoned, in 1653, that assembly over which “Praise-God Barebones” presided; members for Ireland and Scotland sat on the same benches with the commons of England. Oliver’s first deputy in the government of Ireland was his son-in-law, Fleetwood, who had married the widow of Ireton; but his real representative was his fourth son, Henry Cromwell, Commander-in-Chief of the army. In 1657, the title of Lord Deputy was transferred from Fleetwood to Henry, who united the supreme civil and military authority in his own person, until the eve of the restoration, of which he became an active partisan. We may thus properly embrace the five years of the Protectorate as the period of Henry Cromwell’s administration.
In the absence of a Parliament, the government of Ireland was vested in the Deputy, the Commander-in-Chief, and four commissioners, Ludlow, Corbett, Jones, and Weaver. There was, moreover, a High Court of Justice, which perambulated the kingdom, and exercised an absolute authority over life and property, greater than even Strafford’s Court of Castle Chamber had pretended to. Over this court presided Lord Lowther, assisted by Mr. Justice Donnellan, by Cooke, solicitor to the Parliament on the trial of King Charles, and the regicide, Reynolds. By this court, Sir Phelim O’Neil, Viscount Mayo, and Colonels O’Toole and Bagnall, were condemned and executed; by them the mother of Colonel Fitzpatrick was burnt at the stake; and Lords Muskerry and Clanmaliere set at liberty, through some secret influence. The commissioners were not behind the High Court of Justice in executive offices of severity. Children under age, of both sexes, were captured by thousands, and sold as slaves to the tobacco planters of Virginia and the West Indies. Secretary Thurloe informs Henry Cromwell that “the Committee of the Council have authorized 1,000 girls and as many youths, to be taken up for that purpose.” Sir William Petty mentions 6,000 Irish boys and girls shipped to the West Indies. Some cotemporary accounts make the total number of children and adults so transported 100,000 souls. To this decimation, we may add 34,000 men of fighting age, who had permission to enter the armies of foreign powers, at peace with the commonwealth. The chief commissioners, sitting at Dublin, had their deputies in a commission of delinquencies, sitting at Athlone, and another of transportation, sitting at Loughrea. Under their superintendence, the distribution made of the soil among the Puritans “was nearly as complete as that of Canaan by the Israelites.” Whenever native labourers were found absolutely necessary for the cultivation of the estates of their new masters, they were barely tolerated “as the Gibeonites had been by Joshua.” Such Irish gentlemen as had obtained pardons, were obliged to wear a distinctive mark on their dress under pain of death; those of inferior rank were obliged to wear a round black spot on the right cheek under pain of the branding iron and the gallows; if a Puritan lost his life in any district inhabited by Catholics, the whole population were held subject to military execution. For the rest, whenever “Tory” or recusant fell into the hands of these military colonists, or the garrisons which knitted them together, they were assailed with the war cry of the Jews—”That thy feet may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and that the tongues of thy dogs may be red with the same.” Thus penned in between “the mile line” of the Shannon, and “the four mile-line” of the sea, the remnant of the Irish nation passed seven years of a bondage unequalled in severity by anything which can be found in the annals of Christendom.
The conquest was not only a military but a religious subjugation. The 27th of Elizabeth—the old act of uniformity—was rigorously enforced. The Catholic lawyers were disbarred and silenced; the Catholic schoolmasters were forbidden to teach, under pain of felony. Recusants, surrounded in glens and caves, offering up the holy sacrifice through the ministry of some daring priest, were shot down or smoked out like vermin. The ecclesiastics never, in any instance, were allowed to escape. Among those who suffered death during the short space of the Protectorate, are counted “three bishops and three hundred ecclesiastics.” The surviving prelates were in exile, except the bedridden Bishop of Kilmore, who for years had been unable to officiate. So that, now, that ancient hierarchy which in the worst Danish wars had still recruited its ranks as fast as they were broken, seemed on the very eve of extinction. Throughout all the island no episcopal hand remained to bless altars, to ordain priests, or to confirm the faithful. The Irish church as well as the Irish state, touched its lowest point of suffering and endurance in the decade which intervened between the death of Charles I. and the death of Cromwell.
The new population imposed upon the kingdom, soon split up into a multitude of sects. Some of them became Quakers: many adhered to the Anabaptists; others, after the Restoration, conformed to the established church. That deeper tincture of Puritanism which may be traced in the Irish, as compared with the English establishment, took its origin even more from the Cromwellian settlement than from the Calvinistic teachings of Archbishop Usher.
Oliver died in 1658, on his “fortunate day,” the 3rd of September, leaving England to experience twenty months of republican intrigue and anarchy. Richard Cromwell— Lambert—Ludlow—Monck—each played his part in this stormy interval, till, the time being ripe for a restoration, Charles II. landed at Dover on the 23rd of May, 1660 and was carried in triumph to London.