The Confiscation of Ulster in the Reign of James the First


Project of Plantation submitted to the English Privy Council—Orders and Conditions to be observed by the Undertakers—Commission to inquire into “the King’s Title” to the escheated principalities—Orders and instructions to the Commissioners of division.

“Whereas,” says a state paper of the day,* “great scopes and extent of land in the several counties of Armagh, Tyrowen, Coleraine, Donegal, Fermanagh, and Cavan, within our province of Ulster are escheated and come to our hands by the attainder of sundry traitors and rebels, and by other just and lawful titles,** we have heretofore caused several inquisitions to be taken and surveys to be made, which being transmitted and presented to us, we considered with our Privy Council, attending our person, how much it would advance the welfare of that kingdom, if the said land were planted with colonies of civil men and well affected in religion” The civil men were to be English, and principally Scotch—those well affected in religion were to be Protestants—the fulfilment of which conditions would lead to the extermination of the native races of Ireland.

*”Orders and Conditions for Commission for inquiry into escheated lands.”—Harris’s Hibernica, page 132.

**James set up a whimsical hereditary title to the Crown of Ireland.

For the information of the Privy Council attending the person of the royal Planter, the Irish Privy Council submitted their project.

They commenced by laying down four general points, to be observed in all the escheated counties, namely:—

I. That the proportion of land to be distributed to Undertakers may be of three different quantities. The first and least may consist of so many parcels of land as will make a thousand English acres, or thereabouts. The second or middle proportion of so many parcels as will make fifteen hundred English acres, or thereabouts. The third and greatest of so many parcels as will make two thousand English acres, or thereabouts.

II. That all lands escheated in every county may be divided into four parts; whereof two parts may be divided into proportions consisting of a thousand acres a-piece, a third part into proportions of fifteen hundred acres, and the fourth part into proportions of two thousand acres.

III. That every proportion be made a parish, and a parish church be erected thereon; and the incumbents be endowed with glebes of several quantities, viz.: an incumbent of a parish of a thousand acres to have sixty acres, of a parish, of fifteen hundred acres to have ninety acres, and of a parish of two thousand acres to have one hundred and twenty acres; and that the whole tithes, and the duties of every parish be allotted to every incumbent, besides the glebes aforesaid.

IV. That the Undertakers of these lands he of several sorts. First, English and Scottish, who are to plant their proportions with English and Scottish tenants. Second, Servitors in Ireland, who may take English or Irish tenants at their choice. Third, Natives of those counties, who are to be freeholders.

Following these four general principles of division, were special directions for each county, based upon their relative statistics. But before stating these special directions, it will be well to consider those applicable to the whole scheme of the Plantation.

In each county, the authors of this project divided the lands escheated into two divisions, one the portion of the church, and the other the portion of the Undertakers. The first was composed of Termon, Monastery, and Mensall or Demesne lands—the second of the escheated territories of the “late traitors.”

Before the Synod of Kells, held under the presidency of Cardinal Paparo, in 1152,* tithes were unknown in Ireland. They were introduced by a law promulgated in this synod, and Ireland owes to Rome the establishment of an impost so distasteful to her; “than which human wisdom never yet discovered a more equitable and less burthensome provision for the clergy.”** Before the introduction of tithes, the clergy were mainly supported by donations of cattle and other commodities from the people; but they enjoyed other valuable sources of revenue. The chief of which consisted of lands settled on a church by its founder, before it was consecrated by the bishop, to whom then the endowment belonged. These were called Erenach or Termon lands. They enjoyed privileges of sanctuary; and were stocked in ancient times by the founders with septs and races, bound to perform certain services for those to whom they were assigned. They were let to tenants who were compelled to reside, and the proceeds were applied to maintain hospitality, to repair the churches, and to pay the rent reserved by the bishops. At the time of the Plantation, claims were made by the bishops and archbishops in the various counties for Termon lands, to the amount of 43,087 acres; but on inquisition it was found that they had no title to the lands which were escheated, but only certain pensions issuing thereout.

*Moore, vol. 2. p. 189. Mr. King in his “Church History of Ireland,” 2nd edition, p. 227, asserts, that it was at the synod of Cashel, held in 1172, that tithes were first introduced. The synod of Kells was important, because it was a formal recognition of the supremacy of Rome, which had always been acknowledged by the whole church of Ireland, a Legate and Cardinal presiding and distributing paliiums at their own earnest request to the four archbishops. But the decrees of the Cashel Synod were very important. They consisted of seven clauses: 1, Against marriage by near relations; 2, Touching the christening of infants at the church door; 3, Establishing or confirming the payment of tithes of annuals, corn, and other produce to the church; 4, Church lands to he exempted from lay exactions, coyne, livery, coshering, &c.; 5, Exempting the clergy from paying eric when they chanced to be relatives of a murderer. 6, Touching wills. 7, Relating to burials, and uniformity of worship King’s Church History, p. 225.

**This institution almost reconciles Ledwich to the connexion of the Irish Church with Rome.

***Stuart’s “Armagh,” App. p. 616. The word termon is derived from the Latin terminus.

In lieu, it was proposed in this project that these lands should be bestowed on the archbishoprics and bishoprics to maintain their state and dignity, and to be in place of their thirds of the tithes. A provision was made for the inferior clergy, by compelling the bishops to resign their impropriations and to relinquish to the incumbent the tithes of his parish. It was also proposed to grant to every parsonage a new endowment of certain lands for the glebe thereof, according to the third general point. Thus, in this comprehensive design the Church was provided for, getting somewhat more than her share, and much more than either her past services or perspective employments would have entitled her to.

Free schools were endowed in the principal towns, and it was proposed to give to the College of Dublin, out of the lands of O’Neill and his clans, more than a thousand acres, at half the rent to be paid by the Scottish and English Undertakers.

The remainder of the escheated property was to go in such shares as the “four general points” laid down to the Undertakers.

Provisions were made, which were not afterwards entirely fulfilled, for the building of several corporate towns in the different counties.— Lands were to be set aside for these towns, for which they were to pay the same rent as the Undertakers.

But there was one proscribed class—the wretched remnant of the old lords and clansmen of the soil—what, in this liberal distribution of their own, was to fall to their share? Here are the words of the Project:—

Touching the disposing of the natives, some may be planted upon the two thousand three hundred and twenty-three acres of land, and the glebes of the parsons; others upon the lands of Sir Arthur O’Neill’s sons and Sir Henry Oge-O’Neill’s sons, and of such other Irish as shall be thought fit to have any freeholds there. Some others may be placed upon the portions of such servitors as are not able to inhabit their lands with English or Scottish tenants, especially of such as know best how to rule and order the Irish.

Thus, though the materials for forming a judgment of the actual drama which was played are scanty, we can well imagine the incidents of this process of banishment and separation. It was resolved to improve upon former Plantations. In the past efforts to colonize, the Irish had either been mixed with the English, that thereby they might acquire their habits of civility and industry, or else they were driven to the woods, which, at the time, skirted the sides of their mountains and stretched along the banks of every river. The fertile plains were seized on by the English settlers. But this did not work well. The Irish, in the woods to which they had been driven, or on the mountain sides, or in the sacred gloom of their forests, peopled, we may suppose, with the old, but not forgotten fancies of ancient superstition (Druidism,) brooded over their wrongs, and planned a sure and fearful vengeance. They issued from their retreats, destroyed the settlements, burned the towns, waylaid the straggling parties, and covered the face of the country with fire and blood. The holds of Norman robbery were wrapped in flames; their flocks were driven from the open pastures to the mountain and the wood; their retainers were cut off in detail by the ever watchful natives; and often over the noises of their revelry were heard the avenging war-cries of the clansmen of Tyrconnell and Tyrowen.

“These fast places they kept unknown,” says the veracious attorney-general of James, “by making the ways and entries thereto impassable, there they kept their creaghts or herds of cattle, living by the milk of the cow, without husbandry or tillage; there they increased and multiplied unto infinite numbers by promiscuous generation amongst themselves;* there they made their assemblies and companies without discovery; but they discovered the weakness of the English dwelling in the open plains, and there upon made their sallies and retreats with great advantage. Whereas, on the other side, if the English had builded their castles and towns in those places of fastness, and had driven the Irish into the plains and open countries, where they might have had an eye and observation on them, the Irish had been early kept in order.”

*This charge is totally false. It was first made by St. Bernard, whose judgment was warped by local misrepresentations, and who, in fact, knew little or nothing about Ireland. He said that the Irish did not contract marriage, and Gerald Barry repeats the assertion; and hence Davies and other interested calumniators have trumped up the charge of incest and fornication. But Bernard knew nothing of the peculiar Irish rites of marriage, and because they did not marry after the general fashion, he concluded, erroneously, that they were not married at all. Cambrensis was too glad to get any charge against Ireland, not to snap at this readily Moore, vol. 2, p. 171.

It was requisite to the success of the new Plantation, that such consequences as are described above, should be carefully guarded against. It would ill suit the grave yeoman, the thrifty trader, and the cautious burgher, who were to be transported from the fields and towns of Britain, to have such neighbours in the woods. Even the scattered remnant, the hapless survivors of the wars of the League, might re-construct their power in the gloomy security of the forest, and issuing from its depths to burn, kill, and plunder, would thus continue to be a source of ceaseless terror to the Undertakers. It was therefore prudently resolved to fix in the plains and open places the natives, whom the clemency of power still permitted to enjoy part in the distribution of the escheated lands. This was a wise resolution, whether it would eventually be politic to civilize, or necessary to slay them. They were assembled under the eyes and fortresses of the new population; and from his square built tower and his fortified bawn,* he who had despoiled might watch over and control them. Happy state of things, if only cupidity had been constant to execute as it had been wise to design; if, from the fields of Ulster, the children of her soil had been mercilessly driven to the fastnesses and morasses of Connaught, and an ancient people had been, in pursuance of the first intention, swept from the face of the earth by the rushing tide of lawless immigration. But we shall see that the barbarous requisitions of this project of Plantation, either from the fears or necessities of the planters, were not adequately complied with. The Irish swordsmen, most probably because it might have been rash to provoke them to despair, were not driven into Connaught; nor were the West-India isles as yet peopled with a banished nation.** The Irish tillers of the soil were admitted, but too liberally, to become tenants of the Scotch and English farmers, because they offered higher rents for lands, and accepted smaller wages for labour. The humane, and wise, and enlightened projects of the King and his counsellors were baffled by the want of co-operation on the part of the inferior agents of confiscation, and the completeness of the design was destroyed by “the dangerous intrusion of the old natives.”

*The courtyards surrounding the castles and houses of the Undertakers.

**Barbadoes was a favourite place of wholesale banishment of Cromwell. “To have them safe at the Barbadoes” was a familiar form of speech of his.

The Project contains a statistic account of the different counties, not, however, accurately setting down the number of acres in each, but only enumerating the escheated lands available to the purposes of the planters, and excluding unforfeited and church lands, and also excluding bogs, mountains, lakes, woods, and “other unprofitable scopes.” The measurements of land varied in the North; in some counties they reckoned by Ballyboes or Ballibetaghs, a quantity containing sixty English acres, or thereabouts; in others by Quarters of varying value; in others by Tathes, containing thirty English acres, or thereabouts; and in others by Polls, containing four acres each. The calculations of the Privy Council’s Project is as follows:—

Tyrowen contained of “available land,” including the ecclesiastical possessions, 1,571 ballyboes, or 98,187 acres; Coleraine, otherwise O’Cahan’s country, contained 547 ballyboes, or 34,187 acres, of which the Bishop of Derry claimed termon lands to the amount of 6,343 acres; Donegal contained 110,700 acres, of which 9,000 acres were claimed as termon lands; Fermanagh, commonly called M’Gwire’s country, contained 1,070 tathes, or 33,437 acres, with forty-six islands; Cavan, O’Reilly’s country, contained 620 polls, or 40,500 acres; and Armagh contained 77,800 acres, of which the Primate’s share was to be 2,400 acres, and the incumbents’ glebes were to enjoy 4,650 acres.

The corporate towns which this elaborate paper suggested, and which were to have markets and fairs, and other reasonable liberties, with power to send members to Parliament, were to have been built and endowed in the following places:—

In Tyrowen, at Dungannon, Clogher, Omagh, Loughensolin, and Mountjoy; in Coleraine, at Limevaddy and Dungiven; in Donegal, at Derry, Galbey, Donegal, and Ballyshannon; in Fermanagh, at Lisgool, Castleskagh, and at another place midway between Lisgool and Ballyshannon; in Cavan, at Cavan, Belturbet, and at a third place between Kells and Cavan, to be selected by the commissioners;* and finally, in Armagh four corporate towns were to be built and endowed, Armagh, Mountnorris, Tanrygee in O’Hanlon’s country, and Charlemont.

It has been a matter of dispute as to the extent to which the Dublin University can be considered a purely Protestant institution—with that question we are not now to deal—but it must be admitted that she derived much of her great and, in many senses, untold wealth, from the plundered estates of the Catholic chieftains and people of Ulster. In Tyrowen, the University was by this Project to have 813 acres; in Coleraine it was to have 1,125 acres out of the Monastery lands; in Armagh it was to have 1,200 acres; in all over 3,000 acres. In addition to which it was to have six advowsons in every county, three of the best and three of the second value. Thus the spoils of the ancient Church, and the pillage of the Monasteries, went to enrich what is called a purely Protestant foundation, and whose enormous wealth is suppose to have sprung from the beneficent gifts of Protestant sovereigns.

*The Commissioners for the purpose of partition of the escheated lands. The date of their commission was of the 7th of James the First, and it was “to inquire what castles, manors, lordships, lands, tenements, rents, services, customs, duties, fishings, advowsons, and other hereditaments whatever, situate, lying, and being in the several counties of Armagh, Coleraine, Tyrowen, Donegal, Fermanagh, or Cavan, or either of them, or in the confines of them or either of them are escheated and come, or ought to be escheated and come to our hands and possession, or to the hands and possession of any of our progenitors or predecessors, Kings and Queens of England,” &c. It was a comprehensive commission, and addressed to fit agents.—See post.

The Project was greatly modified, and many of its wisest provisions disregarded, in the scramble for plunder which ensued upon the flight of the Earls and the extinction of the last spark of resistance by the death of O’Dogherty: so that we must look to the Orders and Conditions for the Planters, and the Instructions to the Commissioners, for a clearer view of the progress of confiscation.

The “Orders and Conditions for the Planters” begin with the usual preamble of sham rebellions and conspiracies, but with very real attaints and forfeitures. On reviewing the surveys, his Majesty, “out of his princely bounty, not respecting his own profit, but the public peace and welfare of the kingdom by the civil plantation of those unreformed and waste countries, is graciously pleased to distribute the said lands to such of his subjects, as well of Great Britain as of Ireland, as being of merit and ability shall seek the same with a mind not only to benefit themselves, but to do service to the Crown and Commonwealth.”

The paper next sets forth (and in this enumeration of proportions of land and conditions of occupation, it in some degree differs from the Project)
1. The several quantities of the proportions to be distributed. 2. The several classes of undertakers. 3. The mode of allotment; and 4. The rents, services, and the tenures under which they were to hold, and which they were to render.

First, The proportions of land to be distributed to Undertakers shall be of three different quantities, consisting of sundry parcels or precincts of land, called by certain Irish names, used and known in the said several counties, viz., Ballibetaghs, Quarters, Balliboes, Tathes, and Polls; the first or least proportion to contain such or so many of the said parcels, as shall make up a thousand English acres at the least; and the second or middle proportion to contain such or so many of the parcels, as shall make up fifteen hundred English acres at the least; and the last or greatest proportion to contain such or so many of the said parcels, as shall make up two thousand English acres at the least; to every of which proportions shall be allowed such quantity of bog and wood, as the country shall conveniently afford.

Secondly, The persons of the Undertakers of the several proportions shall be of three sorts, viz.

1. English or Scottish, as well servitors as others, who are to plant their portions with English, or inland Scottish inhabitants.

2. Servitors in the kingdom of Ireland, who may take nicer Irish, English, or inland Scottish tenants at their choice.

3. Natives of Ireland, who are to be made freeholders.

Thirdly, His Majesty will reserve unto himself the appointment in what county every Undertaker shall have his portion. But to avoid emulation and controversy, which would arise among them, if every man should choose his place where he would be planted; his Majesty’s pleasure is, that the sites or places of their portions in every county shall be distributed by lot.*

Lastly, The several articles ensuing are to be observed, as well on the behalf of his Majesty, as of the several Undertakers respectively.

*This system of lots was afterwards abandoned.—See post.

Articles concerning the English and Scottish Undertakers, who are to plant their portions with English and inland Scottish Tenants.

1. His Majesty is pleased to grant estates in fee-farm to them and their heirs.

2. They shall yearly yield unto his Majesty for every proportion of a thousand acres, five pounds six shillings and eight pence English, and so ratably for the greater proportions, which is after the rate of six shillings and eight pence for every three score English acres. But one of the said Undertakers shall pay any rent, until the expiration of the first two years, except the natives of Ireland, who are not subject to the charge of transportation.

3. Every Undertaker of so much land as shall amount to the greatest proportion of two thousand acres, or thereabouts, shall hold the same by Knight Service in capite; and every Undertaker of so much land as shall amount to the middle proportion of fifteen hundred acres, Or thereabouts, shall hold the same by Knight Service, as of the Castle of Dublin. And every Undertaker of so much land as shall amount to the least proportion of a thousand acres, or thereabouts, shall hold the same in Common Soccage: and there shall be no wardship upon the two first discents of that land.*

*”Knight Service” was a military tenure, in other words, a tenure in chivalry, wherein the grantee and his heirs should either perform the service of a knight to the grantor and his heirs, or find some other person to perform it. The tenant, besides his military service, was subject to other incidental services. 1st. Aids, to rescue the lord from captivity, to make his son a knight, and to marry his daughter. 2nd. Relief, a sum paid to the lord by the heir to allow him to enter on his land when he had attained his majority. 3rd. Primer seisin, a year’s profit of lands given to the Crown where the heir was of age when his ancestor died. 4th. Wardship, a right to plunder a minor, vested in the King, who might sell the privilege. 5th. Marriage, a right in the lord to get a wife or husband for his ward, if under age. 6th. Fines upon alienation. 7th. Escheat from extinction by death, or commission of treason or felony. The Act of 12th Charles II. c. 24, which gave the coup de grace to the feudal system, extinguished these monstrous rights, and converted all such tenures into free and common soccage.—Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws, vol. 2, p. 63; Knight’s Political Dictionary, article Knight Service. The effects of this odious system, under which civilized England groaned from the Normans to the Roundheads, are well described by the judge, Blackstone, vol. 2, p. 76. The finesse and trickery of Norman lawyers were a sorer burthen to Englishmen than the mailed Barons and the loose adventurers with which the great Norman Plantation of England flooded the country Sir Thomas Smith’s Commonwealth, book 3, chap. 3. One would think the writers upon English tenures might be a little more civil about our Tanistry, Gavelkind, Coyne and Livery, Cosherings and Sessings. James the First intended to change these tenures for an equivalent fee-farm rent. He did not do so; but they being “discontinued during the usurpation,” as a great many evil things were discontinued, Charles the Second did not presume to revive them. His Statute was the catastrophe of Feudalism. Soccage was of two sorts, Free and Villein. In one the services are certain and honourable; in the other are certain, but of a baser kind.
Soccage was a Saxon relique of liberty. The tenant returned for his land fealty and a certain rent. The services that were base are ploughing, carrying out dung, making hedges, and other mean but very useful employments.—Blackstone’s Com. vol. 2, p. 60, et seq.

4. Every Undertaker of the greatest proportion of two thousand acres shall, within two years after the date of his letters patents, build thereupon a Castle, with a strong court or bawn about it. And every Undertaker of the second or middle proportion of fifteen hundred acres shall, within the same time, build a stone or brick house thereupon, with a strong court or bawn about it. And every Undertaker of the least proportion of a thousand acres shall, within the same time, make thereupon a strong court or bawn at least. And all the said Undertakers shall draw their tenants to build houses for themselves and their families near the principal castle, house, or bawn, for their mutual defence or strength. And they shall have sufficient timber, by the assignation of such officers as the Lord Deputy and Council of Ireland shall appoint, out of his Majesty’s woods in that province, for the same buildings, without paying any tiling for the same during the said two years: and to that end there shall be a present inhibition to restrain the falling or destruction of the said woods in the mean time, for what cause soever.

5. The said Undertakers, their heirs and assigns, shall have ready in their houses at all times a convenient store of arms, wherewith they may furnish a competent number of able men for their defence, which may be viewed and mustered every half year, according to the manner of England.

6. Every of the said Undertakers, English or Scottish, before the ensealing of his letters patents, shall take the Oath of Supremacy,* either in the Chancery of England or Ireland, or before the Commissioners to be appointed for establishing of the Plantation, and shall also conform themselves in religion according to his Majesty’s laws.

*The oath of supremacy, which directly controverts one of the principal doctrines of Catholicity, was prescribed by a statute of the second year of Elizabeth.

7. The said Undertakers, their heirs and assigns, shall not alien or demise their portions, or any part thereof, to the meer Irish, or to such persons as will not take the oath, which the said Undertakers are bound to take by the former article. And to that end a proviso shall be inserted in their letters patents.

8. Every Undertaker shall, within two years after the date of his letters patents, plant or place a competent number of English or inland Scottish tenants upon his portion, in such manner as by the Commissioners to be appointed for the establishing of this Plantation shall be prescribed.

9. Every of the said Undertakers, for the space of five years next after the date of his letters patents, shall be resident in person himself upon his portion, or place some such other person thereupon, as shall be allowed by the state of England or Ireland, who shall be likewise resident there during the said five years, unless by reason of sickness or other important cause he be licensed by the Lord Deputy and Council of Ireland to absent himself for a time.

10. The said Undertakers shall not alien their portions during five years next after the date of their letters patents, but in this manner, viz., one-third part in fee-farm, another third part for forty years or under, reserving to themselves the other third part without alienation, during the said five years. But after the said five years they shall be at liberty to alien to all persons, except the meet Irish, and such persons as will not take the oath, which the said Undertakers are to take as aforesaid.

11. The said Undertakers shall have power to erect manors, to hold Courts Baron twice every year, to create tenures to hold of themselves upon alienation of any part of their said portions, so as the same do not exceed the moiety thereof.

12. The said Undertakers shall not demise any part of their lands at will only, but shall make certain estates for years, for life, in tail, or in fee-simple.

13. No uncertain rent shall be reserved by the said Undertakers, but the same shall be expressly set down without reference to the custom of the country, and a proviso shall be inserted in their letters patents against Cuttings, Cosheries, and other Irish exactions upon their tenants.

14. The said Undertakers, their heirs and assigns, during the space of seven years next ensuing, shall have power to transport all commodities growing upon their own lands, which they shall hold by those letters patents, without paying any custom or imposition for the same.

15. It shall be lawful for the said Undertakers, for the space of five years next ensuing, to send for, and bring into Ireland, out of Great Britain, victuals and utensil for their households, materials and tools for building, and husbandry, and cattle to stock and manure the lands aforesaid, without paying any custom for the same, which shall not extend to any commodities by way of merchandize.

The most remarkable of these orders and conditions are those which are aimed at what the insolence of English pride has always termed “meer Irishry.” The Irish are exceptions to the exemption from rent—on the ground that they were “in a fashion born to the soil” and had no journey to go to take possession. Undertakers, those strange usurpers, are forbidden to demise to the meer Irish, or to any tenant who will not take the Oath of Supremacy, which was a practical exclusion of the Catholics of Ulster, if these undertakers acted upon the injunction. The King’s tenants are allowed to alien after five years’ possession, but not to the “meer Irish.”

There is, however, one evidence of true wisdom in these orders. The King’s Council had a just appreciation of an evil, only second in magnitude to confiscation itself. The precautions against Absenteeism were admirably wise, and had the whole system been more generous and catholic, would have produced infinite advantage to the tenants and labourers. But this was another of the rocks on which James’s great measure struck. The patentees lived in England, and left their estates and their dependants to the management of agents who were ignorant and indolent, and who, careless of the success of the Plantation—namely, the total eradication of the Irishmen—countenanced “the dangerous intrusion of the natives.”

The servitors, persons who had served his Majesty in war or in an official capacity in Ireland, and to whom was extended the privilege of inhabiting their portions with meer Irish tenants, were to have an estate in fee farm, paying to the King a yearly rent of eight pounds for every proportion of a thousand acres which they should stock with meer natives, but only five pounds, six shillings and eight pence for every thousand acres on which they should place English or Scotch tenants. They were to enjoy the same tenures and perform the same conditions as the undertakers—to eschew just as steadfastly all Irish customs—to take the Oath of Supremacy and be conformable in religion. And they were forbidden to alien to any of the Irish who would not take the same oath, and manifest the same conformity as themselves.

With regard to the Irish natives, who were to be admitted as freeholders upon the Plantation, they were to have estates in fee farm, paying a yearly rent of ten pounds, thirteen shillings and four pence, for every sixty acres, but not paying rent for the first year.* They were bound not to take Irish exactions, and to adopt the agricultural and tillage systems of the English Pale. “Thus,” as Sir Thomas Philips says, “after a prescribed number of freeholders and leaseholders were settled upon every land, and rents therein set down, they might let the remainder to natives, for lives, so as they were conformable in religion, and for the favour to double their rents.” The result of which was, that out of about two hundred Undertakers in the six counties, there were, in the year 1619, not more than ten or twelve Irish. The only share they had in the Plantation was the privilege of paying enormous rents for limited interests, and receiving small and inadequate wages for the labour they gave to the farms, the Castles and the Bawns of the Scotch and English adventurers, who had been thrust into their lands.

*The English servitor has his land at the rate of sixty acres, for ten shillings—the Irish freeholder for the same quantity pays ten pounds.

It was determined to appoint a commission to set forth the several proportions, and “to order and settle the Plantation” according to a code of instruction with which they were to be furnished by the King and his Council. The Undertakers were bound to attend the Commissioners, to receive directions about the management of their Plantations, and to enter into a bond before them, to perform the articles according to their several distinctions of Building, Planting, Residence, Alienation, and Leases. It was finally resolved that in all the escheated counties there should be a sufficient number of Market towns, and Corporations “for the habitation and settling of tradesmen and artificers,” and one Free School at least in every county for the education of youth in learning and religion; that there should be an adequate number of Parish Churches and Incumbents in each county; and that Tithes should be paid by the people in kind.

If any process of reasoning could reconcile us to the mighty wrong of the Plantation, we should find sufficient grounds for admiration in the provisions contained in these orders. The conditions of tenure,—namely, residence, building, and fixed habitation,—were those most essentially required to produce tranquillity, social enjoyment, and industrial wealth. The habits of the people had been unsettled* and indolent, and they were contented with a mean shelter of hurdle-built huts, without permanence or beauty; the necessity imposed on them of raising houses with stone and lime, and of permanent residence, would control the roving dispositions of the people, and cover the face of the country with solid buildings for shelter and protection. Nor must we forget that the Undertakers and servitors were strictly enjoined not to create tenancies at will, but were, by the very terms of their patents, bound to give substantial interests for a long period of years or for life. But those who could have been reformed and civilized by such revolutions in habits and enjoyments, were excluded entirely from the benefit of the change. The leading principle of the Plantation, and the main idea of its designers was, “the avoiding of natives, and the planting only with British.”

*It cannot be said that they were a wandering or Nomadic race, for each clan was confined to its own patrimonial district. They only wandered to make war upon their neighbours, or to take prey, or to levy such “Irish exactions” as excited the anger of Davies, and other plundering philanthropists.

Such a system was too vicious to endure—extermination, which Spenser counselled, could alone have enabled the Plantation to work well, by a total removal of the original owners of the lands; but, without death or banishment, entire exclusion was impossible; they mingled with the new population in a communion of hatred and ill-will, and instead of a great nation, the fusion of many races, they presented for a long period the appearance of rival factions restrained, and that only occasionally by law, from attempting mutual destruction.

In pursuance of the direction of “the Orders and Conditions,” a commission was issued to “our right trusty and well-beloved” Sir Arthur Chichester, four Bishops and Archbishops, eleven Knights, and to “William Parsons, Surveyor-General, and George Sexton, the Escheator, within Ulster,* to inquire into the lands, manors, and castles, that had come or ought to have come, to the hands of James or his predecessors, by attaint, escheat, forfeiture, or by any means whatsoever— to make exact surveys in each of the counties, by the number of Ballyboes, Tathes, Polls, or Acres—and after such inquisition and survey, to plot and divide the lands into Parishes, Precincts, and Proportions, and to distinguish them by particular names, mears, and bounds, having reference to the intentions of the Project and the Orders. To these Commissioners were given the most ample powers of hearing, and determining, all matters between the King and the Planters, and between party and party. The following are the articles for instruction to the Commissioners, for the Plantation of Ulster:

*The following are the Commissioners: Sir Arthur Chichester, Lord Deputy; Archbishops of Dublin and Armagh; Bishops of Derry and Kilmore; Sir Thomas Ridgeway, Treasurer at war; Sir Richard Wingfield, Marshal;* Sir Humphry Winche, Chief Justice; Sir John Densham, Chief Baron; Sir Oliver St. John, Master of the Ordnance; Sir Oliver Lambert; Sir Henry Power; Sir Gerald Moore; Sir Adam Loftus; (the last five were of the Privy Council); Sir Richard Cooke, Principal Secretary for Ireland; Sir John Davies, Attorney-General; William Parsons, Surveyor-General; and George Sexton, Esq., Escheator for Ulster. The, latter office was no sinecure in James’s time, as the patent roll of his reign will abundantly testify.
*Wingfield was the founder of the Powerscourt family, one of the successful soldiers of fortune, who were the material of much nobility in Ireland.

James Rex.

1st. That a general care be taken, that such Orders, Conditions, and Articles, as have been lately published in print, or are to be printed or transmitted, touching the Plantation, be observed, and put in execution, as well by the Commissioners, as by the Undertakers.

2d. That the said Commissioners be ready to begin their journey into our Province of Ulster for the Execution of their Commission before the end of July next, or sooner if it may be.

3d. The omissions and defects in the former survey of the escheated lands in Ulster, either for us or the Church, are to be supplied and amended by new Inquisitions, and the ecclesiastical lands to be distinguished from the lands belonging to the crown.

4th. The counties being divided into several proportions, every proportion is to be bounded out by the known Metts and Names, with the particular mention both of the number and name, of every Ballyboe, Tathe, Poll, Quarter, or the like Irish precinct of land, that is contained in every portion, and to give each portion a proper name to be known by, and in the proportions lying near to the high ways, choice is to be made of the most fit seat for Undertakers to build upon, in such sort as may best serve for the safety and succour of passengers; and also to allot and set out by Mears and Bounds unto every proportion so much Bogg and Wood over and above his number of Acres, as the place where the proportion shall lie may conveniently afford, having respect to the adjacent proportions.

5th. Because the article of casting lots discourageth many that are sufficient, and would be glad to dwell together, that therefore every county be divided in greater precincts, every precinct containing eight, ten, to twelve thousand acres, according to the greatness of the county, and those precincts to contain several proportions lying together, to the end that so many consorts of Undertakers may here be appointed as there are several precincts; which being done, then these consorts may cast lots for the precincts, and afterwards divide every precinct amongst the particular Undertakers of that consort, either by agreement or by lot; and this form not to be concluded but upon consideration taken thereof by the Commissioners there, who having reported back their opinions, some such course may be resolved, as to us shall be thought most convenient.

6th. To cause plots to be made of every county, and in the said plot to prick out the several precincts, and in the precincts the several proportions by their names.

7th. Such great woods, as the Commissioners shall make choice of to be preserved for our use, are to be excepted out of the proportions, and to be reserved for the Undertakers’ buildings, and for such other purposes as to us shall be thought fit.

8th. That in the surveys observation be made what proportions by name are fittest to be allotted to the Britons, what to the Servitors, and what to the Natives; wherein this respect is to he had, that the Britons be put in places of best safety, the Natives to be dispersed, and the Servitors planted in those places, which are of greatest importance to serve the rest.

9th. The Commissioners are to limit and bound out the precincts of the several parishes, according to their discretions, notwithstanding the limitation of the precinct; wherein they may observe the ancient limits of the old parishes, so as the same breed not a greater inconvenience to the Plantation, and to assign to the incumbent of each parish a Glebe after the rate of three-score Acres for every thousand Acres within the parishes in the most convenient places, or nearest to the churches; and for the more certainty to give each Glebe a certain name, whereby it may be known; and to take order, that there be a proviso in the letters patent for passing the Glebes to restrain the alienations thereof, saving during incumbencies.

10th. It is fit, that certain portions be allotted and laid out for towns in the places mentioned in the project, or in more convenient places, as shall seem best to the Commissioners, having regard that the land be laid as near to the towns as may be.

11th. The parcels of land, which shall be allotted to the College of Dublin, and to the Free Schools in the several counties, are to be set out and distinguished by Mears and Bounds, to the end the same may be accordingly passed by several grants from us. The Commissioners likewise are to set out the quantity of three great proportions lying together in the County of Armagh to be allotted to the said College of Dublin, and six thousand Acres to be taken out of the lands omitted in the last survey (if so much shall be found), these to be only of our land, and not of the Church land.

12th. That there be set out and reserved twelve thousand Acres, either out of the proportions, or otherwise out of the lands omitted in the survey, in such counties and places, as to our Deputy and Commissioners shall be thought meet, the same to be disposed by us for the Endowment of an Hospital to be erected for maimed and diseased Soldiers, in such place and manner, as we shall hereafter appoint.

13th. The Commissioners shall by the authority given them hear and determine all titles and controversies by final Order and Decree, that shall be brought before them, concerning any lands and possessions (the Church lands only excepted) which nevertheless they shall have also power to Order and Decree (as aforesaid) so it be done with the consent of the Lord Deputy, the Archbishop of Dublin, and the now bishop of Derry. They shall also compound for titles between us and our subjects, and between party and party.

14th. And whereas complaint is made, that the sites of some Cathedral Churches, the places of the residence of the Bishops, Deans, Chapters, Dignitaries, and Prebends in Ulster, be passed away to divers in fee-farm by letters patent under pretence of Monastery lands, to the great detriment of those Churches, the Commissioners shall have authority to examine the same, and finding the information true, to consider of some course to be taken for restitution to be made to the Churches from whence they were formerly taken, with such consideration to those that now hold them, as standeth with equity, according to the circumstances considerable. And further we are pleased, that the escheated lands, out of which the Bishops have had heretofore rent, certainty of refections, or pensions, should be esteemed Ecclesiastical, and be annexed to the several Sees whereunto they did pay the same, whereof the Commissioners are to take particular notice, and to see the same effected accordingly.

15th. You our Deputy shall cause our Judges and learned Counsel to set down our titles to the several lands lately escheated in Ulster, to see the records to be perfited, and to take care that they may be safely preserved and kept secret, and to transmit the cases hither under the hands of our Judges and learned Counsel.

16th. All Acts, Orders, and Decrees, resolved there to be recorded into two books, the one to remain there in some Court of Record, and the other to be transmitted to our Counsel here.

17th. It is also to be considered what portions are fit to be allotted to the Mother of the late Earl of Tyrconnel, the Mother of Mac Gwire, Katherine Butler, the late Widow of Mulmorie O’Rely, and such others as claim jointures; and that the Commissioners do (if they have cause) allow the same unto them during their lives, and the reversion to the natives, with condition that they observe the Articles of the Plantation, as other Undertakers do, or otherwise to assign them recompence in some other place.

18th. The river fishings in loughs and rivers are to be allotted unto the proportions next adjoining unto the loughs and rivers, wherein the said fishings are, the one moiety to the proportion lying on the one side of the river or lough, and the other moiety to the proportion lying on the other side, unless by necessity or inconveniency it shall be found fitting to be allotted to the one side; for which fishing some increase of rent is to be reserved unto us, as to the Commissioners shall be thought fit.

19th. That return be made of their proceedings and doings by virtue of this Commission and instructions before Hallow-mass next, that we may have convenient time to resolve thereupon this winter, and to signify our pleasure against the next spring.

In pursuance of the terms of this very ample commission, inquisitions were held concerning the escheated lands, and were returned to the Rolls Office.* Other inquisitions issued concerning the escheated mountains, and inquisitions were held, and the findings with regard to Cavan, Fermanagh, Donegal, and Tyrowen are forthcoming.

We have now before us the means of judging the merits of this Plantation. The titles existing under its patents are sanctified by time and secure by public honour. It would not be open to the nation to canvass the original sin of grants which long possession has rendered sacred. But though none but vulgar fanatics would read history with a view to revive a Court of Claims, or imitate the villainous attempt which Charles the First made to discover defective titles,** still it would be a great error in politics for a nation ever to forget the occurrence of such a political phenomenon as the Plantation of Ulster. It is only with a view to assist in keeping alive a vivid memory of this mighty wrong, to display the internal machinery of the work, to trace the natural results flowing from the loss of independence, namely, cruelty and confiscation*** that this essay has been written.

*In this country, owing to the niggardly spirit, if nothing worse, of Government, the records are badly kept, and but few of them are printed. In the Rolls’ Office, in the Custom House, in the Record Department of the Paymaster of Civil Services (Custom House), and in the Record Tower in the Castle, there are immense numbers of the most valuable documents for the elucidation of both national and family history. But there is no government in Ireland. What bears the name in England, after printing the Ordinance Memoir of Derry, refused to go on with the rest, though thereby we should have the authentic history of Ireland complete. The same government printed the roll of patents of James the First and Charles the First, and were then stopped by their economy. It would be well if any Irish member who has time to spare would turn his valuable attention to this matter.

**Dr. Madden, with considerable power, defends the designer of Ortelius’ map from having such an object.—United Irishmen, vol. ii., 2nd series, p. 508, in the Appendix.

***Is not confiscation rife at this moment? The whole 51nues and the rents of Ireland are confiscated to the use of England, to the utter pauperization of those who raised them all.

The Plantation, though it did not fulfil its “original idea—grand and abominable—of destroying an entire people, wrought some singular effects in the history of Ireland, and produced a strange influence on the fortunes of those kingly robbers by whom it was designed. In that remarkable colony which the first Stuart planted in the broad estates of Irish princes, noblemen, and gentlemen, his wretched son and grandson encountered the most inveterate hostility. On the banks of a memorable river that ran through the old territories of Ultonia, the last of the Stuarts expiated his sins against Liberty. The crimes of the father were visited with usurious interest on the head of the son.

But it is in Ulster that the effects of the Plantation are most striking. The new people have kept aloof from the ancient inhabitants; difference of creed, difference of habits, difference of tradition, and more than all, the operation of the Penal Code, have kept them sundered. The traditional memories of the Northern Irish look towards Scotland. For one short period, brilliant, futile and delusive, a new spirit seemed to arise in the principalities of the O’Neills and the O’Donnells. The independence of Ireland had been torn from her by a parliamentary usurpation; her ancient constitutional rights, which had survived the throes of her long struggle, were trampled on by the English legislature; the nation awoke to resistance—Ulster pondered on the reasonings of Molyneux, and was fired by the inspired eloquence of Grattan; and in the very heart of the Plantation, in the halls of Dungannon,* the Volunteers of Ireland pronounced her Liberty.

*”The Lord Chichester hath one thousand one hundred and forty acres, called Dungannon. Upon this is built a fort of lime and stone, with four half bulwarks and a deep ditch around it, twenty feet broad, and counterscarped. His lordship is to build a town in Dungannon, for which there is laid out 500 acres.”—Pynnar’s Survey, in Harris’s Hibernica, p. 208.

But alas! even in that great movement, the “meer Irish” were to be again excluded. They were to obtain as scant a gift of freedom as their fathers of property; the inveterate prejudices and traditions which, by the principle of the Confiscation, were inseparable from the descendants of the Scotch and English Undertakers, were busy with Irish freedom, and succeeded in rendering a great army a mere gewgaw and a pageant, and what might have been a National Revolution little more than a military pantomime. The predominant feeling of the highest men amongst the Volunteers was against the “meer Catholics;” furious for liberty, they were liberal of exclusion; the genius of Flood, the amiable and benevolent insipidity of Charlemont could not save them from intolerance or from fear of their countrymen; they foolishly imagined that a nation could be created out of such elemental discord as their religious exclusiveness must of necessity have produced. And their glory was turned into derision; they repelled it is true, “the dangerous intrusion of the natives;” but they lost their country.

By incessant, war, and by the intrigues of English policy, the entire people of Ireland had been reduced to the lowest scale of social life—their lands were ravaged, the fruits of the earth destroyed, the villages of the peasantry burned, the peasantry themselves driven to the fastnesses and the forests. The first object was to re-people the deserted plains, to stud them with permanent residences, provided with all the necessaries of civilized homes; to cluster together groups of habitations, where industrial association would in time produce commerce and create national wealth; and the provisions given in the Conditions for Undertakers tended to procure this desired result. Though the directions with regard to castles and bawns were not strictly complied with, yet villages and towns gradually arose in the escheated counties; strongly protected fortresses and mansions sprung up on every side; houses of worship—not, indeed, of the banished faith, the old inheritance of Ulster, but of new and hungry religionists, of discordant creeds—and schools for the education of youth, were seen in most parts of the North.

No better choice could have been made than the Scotch to form the staff of the colony. They were thrifty, industrious, hungry, avaricious, and persevering, and had made great advances in social improvement, agriculture, and manufactures. They were well adapted to fulfil another object of the Plantation, the creation of an industrious population in the North, by whose energies and resolution the great natural resources of the country might be turned to the best account. And in this they succeeded fully. In no other part of Ireland can be found the same amount of commercial enterprise and manufacturing activity; in no where else are the peasantry more industrious and frugal, and with so high a standard of social comfort; and in Ulster alone, after all its revolutions and all the terrible sufferings of social convulsion, do we find any protection given to the tillers of the soil against the harsh practices and overweening egotism of proprietorship.* The restraints upon the creation of tenancies at will has acted well: the tenures in the North are generally valuable freeholds, to which are attached a great protection for industry and a great stimulant for enterprise.

*The Tenant Right. It grows directly, but not naturally, out of the Plantation.

But all these fair promises—all these castles, churches, schools—all this busy hum of industry, this trade and manufacture were of small avail. The exclusion of the natives planted a germ of destruction in the goodly enterprize. Their extermination would have been a matter much to have been desired by English statesmen and Scotch adventurers. But it is not so easy to exterminate a people. How could a population even reduced as the Northern clans were, be driven from their native soil? Torn from their dwellings, what was to be done with them? “With a hundred Raleighs their entire destruction would have been a difficult matter—and if the enviable consummation of their eradication were unattainable, how and where were they to live? A middle course was adopted; life was awarded on the conditions of ill paid labour and oppressive rents. The natives became the hewers of wood and the drawers of water, where they had once owned the soil and reaped for themselves its abundant fruits. Hence two elements were placed in continual and angry opposition; ownership and usurpation, embittered with diversity of creed and race. The first fruits were visible in the affair of 1641;* nor, though better prospects now appear, have the effects of the great error of the plantation altogether ceased. There was no policy but this—to exterminate or to consolidate; neither was adopted, and the result was that the Plantation proved to be an unsuccessful experiment of reformation, a great oppression without anything ennobling to atone for its grievous wrongs.

*De Beaumont, who takes too much for granted the English accounts of the Rebellion, makes an ingenious but certainly not an accurate, remark upon it:—”On put dans cet instant solennel ou toutes les passions etaient en jeu, juger celle qui dominaient dans leur ame; et il est remarquable pas un seul Ecossais ne fut tué; leur vengeance se porta sur les Anglais. N’est-ce pas que le sentiment national etait alors chez eux superieur encore à la passion religieuse? Les Ecossias etaient bien par leur Puritanisme les plus terribles ennemis de l’Irelande Catholique; mais c’etaient des ennemis nouveaux, tandis que leurs ennemis inveteres, leur ennemis de cinq Siecles, c’etaient les Anglais de Henri VIII., et d’Elizabeth, derniers conquerants, les Anglais de Jacques, colons spoliateurs et Protestants. Dans l’execution de cette terrible vengeance, ou se resumaient tant de si anciens ressentiments, il se commit de cruautés dont on se sent à peine le courage de presenter le recit.” “In this awful moment, when all the passions of the Irish were at work, we may judge which passion was predominant in their souls; and it is remarkable that in the first moment not a single Scotchman was killed; their vengeance in the beginning was directed against the English. Was not this because the national sentiment was still superior to religious passions? The Scotch, from their puritanism, were the most terrible enemies of Catholic Ireland; but they were new enemies, whilst their inveterate enemies, the enemies of five centuries, were the English, the English of Henry II., the first invader, the English of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, the last conquerors, the English of James I., protestant and plundering settlers. In the execution of terrible vengeance, in which so many ancient resentments were united, cruelties were committed which will scarcely bear recital.”—De Beaumont’s Ireland, Taylor’s translation, vol. 1, p. 67. De Beaumont had probably read “Temple’s Rebellion,” the most arrant collection of profane falsehood in English literature. Milton says, that five hundred thousand Protestants were murdered; Leland more wisely reduces the number to twelve thousand; whereas Pynnar, who surveyed the escheated counties in 1619, gives as the amount of his accurate examination the following figures; the whole contents of the six counties are, families 1974: men capable of bearing arms, 6215.

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