How it happened that the Mercers, Grocers, Drapers, Fishmongers, Goldsmiths, Skinners, Merchant Tailors, Haberdashers, Salters, Ironmongers, Vintners, and Clothworkers of London became Irish Landlord—The Irish Society—The creation of Baronets.
Derry was so called from Doire, an Irish word signifying “the place of oaks.” It was also called Derry Calgach, “the oak-wood of Calgach,” who, they say, is classicized by the pen of Tacitus into Galgacus. It was also known as “Derry Columbkille,” from the saint’s name who founded an abbey there. The distinctive epithets were afterwards thrown aside, and for a while it bore its own simple name, until a new and more monstrous transformation converted it into Londonderry.* How this came to pass, and how, on the ancient Hill of Oaks, sacred to Pagan superstition and Christian holiness, a new order of lay monks founded their establishments, their temples, and their priesthood, we are now to be informed.
*Yet there is some propriety in the name, for London, like Derry, is traceable to a Celtic or rather a Scythic origin, and seems as correctly to describe the modern Derry as Doire did the ancient. London is by some interpreted as “the town of ships,” or the “fortified town,” but the Celtic compound which means a “strong fortress,” (Lonn-dun,) is the true origin of the name. Any of these derivations will suit the present Derry; and it is singular that a little way up the river is an. ancient fortress with a similar name, (Dun-na-long) “the fortress of ships.”—Ordnance Memoir, p. 17.
After many revolutions undergone through the course of lawless ages, at various times guarded with anxious care and saintly piety, ravaged by the wrath of fierce chiefs and clans, plundered by English freebooters and Norman cutthroats, burned by the savage Dane, and re-erected by Celtic devotion, Derry owed its restoration to that valiant and bloody soldier, Sir Henry Dowcra. On the hill of Derry, “which in troubled times was selected as the Acropolis of the North,”* Dowcra re-erected the town and laid the foundation of its importance.
On the 16th of April, 1600, with a large fleet and 4,200 men he entered the historic waters of Lough Foyle, and effected a landing at the Fort of Culmore. The Kinel-Connell and the Kinel-Owen were fighting their last great fight, and by the profound policy of Mountjoy victory had been snatched from their grasp. He met but little resistance. He erected strong works at Culmore and on the Derry; ramparts and strong walls of earth, large houses of lime and stone, and “a city on the erection of which much time and labour were bestowed.”** He flung down the monastery, the cathedral, and all the other religious buildings, profanely to convert their materials to the uses of his forts and towers.*** Strong garrisons were placed in Derry, which, however, were removed at the termination of the war in 1603, 100 horse and 150 foot under Dowcra, and 200 foot under Captain Richard Hansard, only being left to keep the place. During three years Sir Henry, who had been created Governor, laboured incessantly to lay, wide and sure, the foundations of a great commercial town. He procured several grants and patents for holding markets and for the enjoyment of many valuable liberties and privileges. And he himself reaped for his services an abundant crop of honours and rewards; but in 1604, for certain inadequate considerations, he sold to George Pawlet of Hampshire, much to the said George’s subsequent discomfiture, his house and land and company of foot, and having appointed him Vice-Provost of “the Derrie,” he returned to England, and never resumed the government of the city, greatly to his own advantage and security. Sir George Pawlet had little time to follow up the wise designs of Dowcra. He was a rough and brutal soldier, and having insulted Sir Cahir O’Dogherty, the chief of Inishowen, by coarse language and personal chastisement, he drove that young and valiant lord into “rebellion.” O’Dogherty took the fort of Culmore, it is said, by treachery, and Derry by surprise, put Sir George, his lieutenant, and garrison to the sword, plundered the infant city, and reduced it to ashes. But a ” fortunate shot in the head” terminated the career of Sir Cahir on the 18th July, 1608, and smoothed the way for the general Plantation, whose plans and projects had been already fully discussed, and whose fruits had already been devoured in anticipation by the tribes of Undertakers, Servitors, and other “hungry vultures,” that awaited the partition of Ulster.
*Ordnance Survey of Derry,” p. 17. This admirable piece of history and natural philosophy cannot be sufficiently praised. Pity that government would not win some popularity by publishing all the local histories of all Ireland in a similar way.
**”Annals of the Four Masters,” a. d. 1600.
***The “Ordnance Memoir” modifies the statement. It says that Dowcra only made use of the materials of the cathedral, it being in ruins.—Page 18.
And now it was that commercial and trading enterprize effected what the wisdom of Dowcra had commenced, and the vengeance of O’Dogherty so sadly interrupted. A new class of landlords, rich and grasping as the burghers of Ghent and Bruges, were planted on the ancient Hill of Oaks, and henceforth swayed Arachty with a foreign, unparental rule.
When the commission, issued by the crown to Chichester and the rest of the escheators, had returned their findings, duly giving six counties to James, that wise King conceiving that the city of London was the fittest body he could select, to effect a great Plantation in the North of Ireland, directed Robert Cecil to communicate with Sir Charles Edmonds, the city Remembrancer, desiring him to acquaint the Lord Mayor (who was Humphrey Weld), that the Earl wished a conference on the subject of the Ulster lands. A conference was had, and the propositions which I have already given, were made by the King to the City. These propositions were called “Motives and Reasons to induce the City of London to undertake the Plantation in the North of Ireland,” and they certainly were of a nature likely to attract the burgesses of a city, already distinguished for the keen pursuit of gain. The paper gave a glowing picture of Ulster, of its natural wealth and its great capacity for trade and commerce. It represented a country well watered, abundantly stored with every necessary, rich in its fattening pastures, and abundant in its promise of “butter, cheese, hides, and tallow;” with good harbours, plentiful ocean fishery, much train oil and fish oil, ready to reward the hands of industry—altogether it painted such prospects as could not well be resisted by the thrifty tailors, cloth workers and mercers, of the incomparable city of London. The country was broken to their hands—the mailed Barons, Knights, and soldiers had done their work, “braying the people as in a mortar”—and now the peaceful invaders, hungiy and thick as the pests of Egypt, might spread themselves over the face of the land.
In a few days when these “Motives and Reasons” had time to sink into the hearts of the men of trade, the Corporation, and the Lords of the Privy Council came to an understanding—but with caution on the part of the burghers. They expressed their willingness to go on with the Plantation, if the King’s representations of the feasibility and advantage of a London colony, were found by discreet commissioners of them to be correct. Upon which they despatched four worthy citizens, John Broad, Goldsmith; Robert Tresswell, Painter Stainer; John Rowley, Drapier; and John Munns, Mercer; as a deputation to inquire into and report upon the state of the county of Coleraine, and the propriety of the City of London taking part in its new colonization. They set out upon this grave mission, not without tears from weeping wives and friends, into the fastnesses and amidst the savages of the land of O’Neill and O’Donnell; and having boldly and wisely discharged their missionary duty, presented their report to the Court of Common Council.* The report was read, and we may presume, ifr confirmed the king’s eulogies; for the Common Council appointed a committee to transact business with the Privy Council, and prescribed the times and place at Guildhall for their meeting. Would that there remained any true memorial of these meetings! It would be a study to hearken to those ^ business-like robbers, gilding over with solemn plausibilities the schemes of iniquity they were planning— mourning over the “incivilitie” and barbarism of the natives, philanthropically devising reformation, magnifying the wise and munificent spirit of English trade, and dealing with all the other ingenious lies which craft and cupidity use to conceal their villany. But, there are no records left save a few formal entries in the town-books, from which we must draw our own inferences, dry entries, but significant enough.
*We are told in that very stupid compilation, “The Concise View of the Irish Society,” that such a report was presented; but the report itself is not given, though it would be most interesting, nor does it give a single particular about the mission of these four pioneers of “civility.”
The committee sat at Guildhall, and made their report to the common council, on the various conditions which they should require from the King, expressing their opinion in favour of the establishment of a company in London for the administration of the affairs of the Plantation, and of the foundation of corporations in Derry and Coleraine subject to the direction of the central company. And this was the germ of the “Irish Society,” which for more than two centuries has enjoyed the rents and revenues of an entire Irish county; a company of foreign traders, having no kind of connection with Ireland, and yet swallowing an enormous rental dragged out of the vitals of the poorest country, to be expended in the richest city of Europe, The Irish Society is a type and symbolical representation of English rule in Ireland from the beginning.
The report was approved and presented to the privy council, and after some further conference articles of agreement were arranged (28th January, 1609,) between the privy council on the King’s part, and the committee of the city on the part of the mayor and commonalty of London. Thus the King’s sanguine wish was about to be fulfilled, the citizens had consented to take in hands the Plantation of Derry, and he was sensible, that “when his enemies should hear that the famous City of London had a footing therein (in Ulster), they would be terrified from looking into Ireland, the back door of England and Scotland.”
The conditions on the part of the Londoners were:—
The City agreed to levy £20,000, £15,000 to be expended in clearing away private men’s interests; to build a certain number of houses, leaving room for more, and that 4,000 acres should be allocated to the city.* That the rest of the County of Derry, estimated at 12,000 acres, should be cleared from private men’s interests; that the timber of certain woods should be devoted to the furtherance of the Plantation, and not made merchandize. The articles provide for the City’s having the presentation to churches; for the monopoly of sea and river fisheries; for the customs, poundage, tonnage, and great and small customs; for the enjoyment by the twelve trades of the office of Admiralty)** along the coasts of Tyrconnell and Coleraine, and the salvage of all their own vessels wrecked at sea, in Ballycastle and Oderfleete, and in all the coasts, ports, and creeks. A number of other provisions protect the interests of the Society and the City, stringent and comprehensive enough. It was amongst the rest settled that Culmore Fort, which Sir Arthur Chichester had resigned to James, should be given to the City, and the land appertaining, provided they maintained a sufficient force.
*These acres bred a serious controversy between the Corporation of Derry and the Irish Society, which continues I believe to the present moment, and in which the Irish Corporation has manifestly the advantage of the Anglo-Irish Society.
**A strange honour for the Drapers, &c. &c.
One part of these Articles was signed by Lord Ellesmere (Lord Chancellor), Robert Earl of Salisbury, Henry Earl of Northampton, Thomas Earl of Suffolk, Edward Earl of Worcester, George Earl of Dunbar, Edward Lord Zouch, William Lord Knowles, John Lord Stanhope, Sir John Herbert (Secretary to the King), and Sir Julius Caesar. The other part was signed by Sir Henry Montague, and sixteen other persons of the Common Council eommittee. A singular mixture of aristocratic and plebeian names to attest this monstrous deed of partition, by which an entire principality is bestowed upon the trades of London.
When these articles were executed, the Court of Common Council proceeded to constitute a company, to consist of one Governor and one Deputy Governor, and twenty-four Assistants; the Governor and five Assistants to be Aldermen, and the Recorder to be one of the Assistants, the rest being Commoners of the City of London. These officers were yearly to be elected at the first Common Council to be held after the feast of the “Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” The first Governor of the Society was William Cockayne, Alderman and Sheriff, and the first Deputy was William Towerson.
The duties of the company were these:— “The Court further enacted, that the said company then elected and appointed, or thereafter from time to time to be elected and appointed, or any nine of them, whereof the Governor or Deputy for the time being to be one, should have full power and authority to hold and keep a court, and in the same to treat, debate, and determine of all matters and causes concerning the business that to them in their discretions should think fit; and also to direct, appoint, and command what should be done or performed on the behalf of the City, concerning the said plantation; and also should give direction in England, either by letters or otherwise sent to Ireland, for the ordering, managing, and disposing of all things whatsoever concerning the intended plantation, or anything belonging to the citizens of London’s undertaking in that part of Ireland called Ulster; as also for the receiving, ordering, disposing, and disbursing of all sums of money that were or should be collected or gathered for that purpose, and generally for any other cause, matter, or thing whatsoever, incident to or belonging to the business and affairs in Ulster; and in the courts so to be holden should have full power and authority to nominate and appoint their clerk, beadle, and such other officers as they in their discretion should think fit; and that whatsoever should be done, decreed, or resolved by and at any such court so to be holden, should be firm and stable, and the Court of Common Council thereby declared it ratified and confirmed by them. The wardrobe in Guildhall was appointed to be the place where the courts of the company should be held. The times of meeting were to be appointed by the Governor or Deputy Governor, who were respectively to give orders for summoning the company together. The City Chamberlain was at the same court of Common Council appointed Treasurer of the monies to be raised of the City for the purposes of the said plantation, who was to pay all monies conform ably to warrants to be signed by the Governor or Deputy Governor, with three of the Assistants of the company.”
Thus was “the Irish Society” formed. Whereupon Master Tristram Beresford and Master John Rowley were appointed general agents for the city, and immediately proceeded to Ireland, where soon after the Society got seizin of their estates. On the 29th of March, 1613, they were incorporated by charter, under the denomination of “the Society of the Governor and Assistants of London of the new Plantation of Ulster within the realm of Ireland.” On the 28th of June following a charter was given to Coleraine.
In December, of the same year, the county was divided into twelve divisions, with the exception of the city of Londonderry and the town of Coleraine, and the adjacent territories, ferries, and fishings belonging to the same, of which no fair partition could have been made; one division being assigned to each of the twelve companies of the city of London, who had taken part in the Plantation. To each of the large companies, some smaller ones were added; for example to the mercers were added the innkeepers, cooks, embroiderers, and masons. Altogether, never was such incongrous material got together for landlords and planters of ” civilitie.” The estates were then consigned to the management of the companies.
That this management was of the worst description, harsh, indolent, grasping, uneconomic, is clear from the inquiries directed by the king, and the reports made thereupon. Sir Josias Bodley, was sent by the Lord Deputy in 1613, to examine unto the progress of the Plantation, and to ascertain whether the city had performed its part. He made a report to James, complaining of their negligence in the strongest terms, whereupon the king, a ready writer, a very Solomon at the Pen, nay, more familiar with the Pen even than with the Sceptre—though tenderly loving both—writes a letter to his dear Counsellor Sir Arthur Chichester; a notable historic document, as all James’s are, but rather too long to copy here.
He reminds Sir Arthur, of the great revenue he might have derived from the Plantation, if he had not preferred the reformation of that disordered district of Ulster by a civil Plantation, (a nice euphony for robbery!) to be made therein, before the private profit he might have reaped by it. But, alas for royal hopes and royal wisdom! after all his liberal grants, he had discovered that neither the safety of the country, nor the planting of religion and civility, “amongst that rude and barbarous people,” which were the principal objects of that project,* and which he expected as the only fruits and returns to him of his bounty, were any whit as yet materially effected by the London shopmen. He was not ignorant how much the real accomplishment of the Plantation concerned the future peace and safety of Ireland; but if there were no reason of state to press it forward, yet would his majesty pursue and effect that work as earnestly as he was doing, merely for the goodness and morality of it, “esteeming the settling of religion, the introducing of civility, order, and government amongst a barbarous and unsubjected people, to be an act of piety and glory, and worthy of a Christian prince to endeavour.”
*Again I must refer the reader to Mr. Lascelles’s Observations on Preambles. His history of Ireland has been suppressed by government; it was too true for general use. But, it fortunately is still to be found in the Four Courts’ Library, and I believe the Dublin Society. It ought to be republished.
He requests that a careful survey should be taken, and the results to be accurately conveyed to him. For he had been informed that some of the Undertakers, (meaning thereby, doubtlessly, the London merchants,) had sold away their portions to men of mean ability and unfit for the service, and that other similar offences had been committed against the planting of civility. And finally, he says, “we are so desirous to understand from you the true state of the Plantation, that once again we do strictly enjoin you to give us a faithful account of this trust which we repose in you, without care or fear to please or displease any of our subjects, English or Scottish, of what quality soever.”
One of the consequences of this letter was the appointment of a new officer, Nicholas Pynnar, to take a general survey of the works of the company on their proportions in Ulster. And this survey, lamely and inconclusively as it was executed, will serve to show how far these London landlords complied with the conditions of their grant.
The following return was made by Pynnar of the results of his inquiry, A.D. 1619:
LONDONDERRY, CITY AND COUNTY.
The City of London-Derry is now compassed about with a very strong wall, excellently made, and neatly wrought, being all of good lime and stone; the circuit whereof is two hundred and eighty-four perches and twothirds, at eighteen feet to the perch; besides the four gates, which contain eighty-four feet; and in every place of the wall it is twenty-four feet high and six feet thick. The gates are all battlemented, but to two of them there is no going up, so that they serve to no great use, neither have they made any leaves for their gates; but make two draw-bridges serve for two of them, and two portcullices for the other two. The bulwarks are very large and good, being in number nine; besides two half bulwarks; and for four of them there may be four cannons or other great pieces; the rest are not all out so large, but wanteth very little. The rampart within the city is twelve feet thick of earth; all things are very well and substantially done, saving there wanteth a house for the soldiers to watch in, and a sentinel house for the soldiers to stand in in the night to defend them from the weather, which is most extreme in these parts.
Since the last survey there is built a school, which is sixty-seven feet in length and twenty-five feet in breadth, with two other small houses. Other building there is not any within the city. The whole number of houses within the city are ninety-two, and in them there are one hundred and two families, which are far too few a number for the defence of such a circuit, they being scarce able to man one of the bulwarks; neither is there room enough to set up one hundred houses more, unless they will make them as little as the first, and name each room for a house.
This fort or blockhouse of Culmore is now in the hands of Captain John Baker; the walls are now finished, and the castle built; all which is strong and neatly wrought, with platforms for their artillery: and this is the only key and strength of the river that goeth to the Derry.
The town of Coleraine is at the same state it was at the last survey; there are but three houses added more to the building, which are done by other men; only the city hath allowed them twenty pounds a piece towards their building. That part of the town, which unbuilt, iB so extreme dirty, that no man is able to go in it, and especially that which should and is accounted to be the market place. The walls and ramparts, built of sods, and filled with earth, do begin to decay very much and to moulder away; for the ramparts are so narrow that it is impossible they should stand, and the bulwarks are so exceeding little, that there cannot be placed any piece of artillery, if occasion were. There are two small ports which are made of timber and boards, and they serve for houses for the soldiers to watch in. This town is so poorly inhabited, that there are not men enough to man the sixth part of the wall.
John Freeman, Esq., hath this proportion, containing by estimation three thousand two hundred and ten acres.
Upon this proportion there is a bawn of lime and stone one hundred feet square, sixteen feet high, with four flankers; also there is a large castle or stone house in building within the wall, which was two stories high, and the workmen earnestly at work to finish it with all haste. There are also six houses of stone, and six of timber, very strong and well built, and seated in a very good and convenient place for the King’s service.
Muffe, 3,210 Acres.
Edward Rone had this proportion; but he being dead there is no body to aver for the buildings. Upon this proportion there is a bawn in building, being one hundred feet square, with four flankers, the walls are now five feet high. By this -bawn there are buil* four good strong houses of lime and stone, and well slated. There are four more that are built in other places, somewhat further off. There are other houses of lime and stone that are upon the land dispersed; but they are built by the tenants themselves; and yet they have no estates, and likely, as they tell me, to be removed, sorne of them having spent upon their building one hundred pounds; and this is through the slackness of the Company that have not made estates to the Undertakers. All this land, for the most part, is inhabited with Irish.
Ballykelly, 3,210 Acres.
This proportion is in the hands of James Higgins, a merchant of London, whose agent is here resident. Upon this there is built a strong bawn of stone and lime one hundred and twenty-five feet square, twelve feet high, with four flankers, and a good house within it, being fifty feet square, all finished and inhabited by the agent, and furnished with good store of arms. There are near to the castle fifteen houses, whereof three are of stone and lime; the rest are of timber, and are rough cast with lime and slated. These stand in a convenient place for service. There is also a church near built, which is forty-three feet long, twenty-six wide, neatly made up, and a good preacher to teach the people.
George Cammynge, agent for the Company, is here resident; but he hath no order to make any estates to any tenants that are come thither to dwell; notwithstanding there are divers that have disbursed a great deal of money, and built good houses. All that these men can get are articles of agreement for thirty-one years; but they fear that this may be altered by others that may come after: notwithstanding they pay for every townland, which they account to be but sixty acres, five pounds ten shillings, or five pounds per annum. The uncertainty of this is a great hindrance of the Plantation. The castle, which was formerly begun, is (thoroughly finished, being a very good and strong castle; and there is a bawn of brick and lime, whereof there are but three sides done, without flankers, which maketh the place of no strength. There are also eight dwelling houses of cage work, some are slated, and some shingled; but they stand so far asunder that they have but little succour one of another.
Manaway, 3,210 Acres.
This is not set to any man as yet; but it is held by one Vernon, agent for the Company. Upon this proportion the castle, which was formerly begun, is now thoroughly finished, being not inferior to any that is built; for it is a good strong work, and well built, and a very large bawn of one hundred and twenty feet square, with four flankers, all of good stone and lime. Not far from the bawn there *re six houses of cage-work, some covered with shingles, and some thatched, and inhabited by such poor men as they could find in the country; and these pay such dear rates for the land, that they are forced to take Irish tenants under them to pay the rent. There are divers other houses of slight building, but they are far off, and dwell dispersedly in the wood, where they are forced of meer necessity to relieve such wood kearn as go up and down the country; and, as I am informed by divers in the country, there are in forty-six townlands of this proportion, that are set to the Irish of the sept of Clandonells, which are the wickedest men in all the country.
MERCHANT TAILORS’ HALL.
Macoskin, 3,210 Acres.
This is in the hands of Valentine Hartopp, Esq., who is newly come to dwell there, having taken this proportion of the Company for sixty-one years. This castle is finished, being fifty feet long and thirty-four feet wide; the castle is battlemented, and built very strong, There is no bawn begun as yet; but the gentleman is causing stone and lime to be laid in readiness, that they may go roundly away with it. Here, near unto the castle, are built seven good houses of stone and lime, well slated and inhabited with English, standing altogether in a well-chosen place. There is a fair large church well finished, being eighty-six feet long and thirty-two feet broad, the roof set up and ready to be slated.
Ballycastle, 3,210 Acres.
Sir Robert Mac Lellan hath taken this of the Company for sixty-one years; and upon this the castle is strongly finished, being very strong and well wrought, himself with his lady and family dwelling in it. There is no bawn nor sign of any, nor any other kind of building, more than slight houses after the Irish manner, which are dispersed all over the land. The church lieth still as at the first, and nothing at all doing unto it. There were nominated unto me six freeholders, which were in Scotland, and these were set down but for small quantities; and twenty-one leaseholders; but not any one of these could show me any thing in writing for their estates; neither could the landlord show me any counterparts. It is true I saw the land planted with British tenants to the number of eighty men, and in the castle arms for them.
The said Sir Robert hath taken this proportion of the Company for sixty-one years; and upon this there is a castle of lime and stone fifty-four feet long, thirty-four feet wide, and twenty-eight feet in height; but this is not as yet covered, neither any plantation with British tenants, but only one freeholder, which is the parson of the parish. For all this land, is inhabited with Irish.
Dungiven, 3,210 Acres.
The Lady Dodington, late wife to Sir Edward Dodington, deceased, is in possession of this, she having a grant of it from the Company for sixty-one years. Here is built a strong castle, being two stories high and a half, with a large bawn of lime and stone well fortified. In this the lady is now dwelling, with twenty-four in her family. There is also in another place of this land, called Crossalt, a strong castle of lime and stone built by Sir Edward, being eighty feet long and thirty-four feet broad, with two turrets to flank it; also a bawn of lime and stone an hundred feet square, fourteen feet, and our flankers; so that on this proportion there are two bawns and two castles, with two villages, containing twelve houses a piece. At each castle also there is a church adjoining to the castle, and a good teacher to instruct the people. There is plenty of arms in these castles.
This is in the hands of Baptist Jones, Esq., who hath built a bawn of brick and lime an hundred feet square, with two round flankers and a good rampart, which is more than any of the rest have done. There are also within the bawn two good houses, one opposite to the other; the one is seventy feet long and twenty-five feet wide; the other is nothing inferior unto it. Near unto the bawn he hath built ten good English houses of cagework, that be very strong and covered with tiles, the street very wide, and is to be commanded by the bawn. All these are inhabited with English families, and himself with his wife and family be resident therein. There are divers other good houses built upon the land, which are further off; and these do use tillage plentifully after the English manner. He hath made his full number of freeholders and leaseholders; but he being gone into England, and his tenants at the assizes, I saw them not. There was good store of arms in his house, and upon the land seventy-six men, as I was informed.
Moneymore, 3,210 Acres.
This proportion is not set to any man, but is held by the agent, Mr. Russel. Upon this there is a strong bawn of stone and lime an hundred feet square, fifteen feet high, with two flankers. There is a castle within the bawn of the same wideness, being battlemented, the which hath also two flankers, and near finished. Right before the castle there are built twelve houses, whereof six are of lime and stone very good, and six of timber, inhabited with English families; and this is the best work that I have seen for building; a water-mill and a malt-house also. A quarter of a mile from the town there is made a conduit head, which bringeth water to all places in the bawn and town in pipes. But these tenants have not any estates; for the agent can make none, neither will they, till such time as their land can be improved to the utmost. Within this castle there is good store of arms.
Hugh Sayer is upon this proportion, and upon this they have built in two several places at Marifelt. There is a bawn of eighty feet square of lime and stone, with two flankers, and the castle is now in building, being sixty feet long and twenty feet wide. This is now three stories high, and the roof ready to be set up. The walls of the bawn are not as yet above ten feet high. Near unto the bawn there are seven houses of slight cagework, whereof five are inhabited with poor men, the other two stand waste. The other place, called Salters’ Town, hath a bawn of stone and lime seventy feet square, twelve feet high, with two flankers, and a poor house within it of cage-work, in which the farmer, with his wife and family, dwelleth. Here are also nine houses of cage-work standing by the bawn, being inhabited with British families, also a sawing-mill for timber; but the glass-houses are gone to decay, and utterly undone There are not any upon this land that have any estates.
Pynnar’s inquiry with reference to the entire Plantation, resulted in these conclusions:—
That there were settled on the escheated lands 6,215 bodies of men, but he observes that, from the number of habitations, and by having conversed with parties who were there, and familiar with the statistics, he is led to believe that there might have been then (1619) found on these lands at least 800 men of British descent and birth, ready and able to do his Majesty’s service:
That there were built 107 castles with bawns; 19 castles without bawns; 42 bawns without castles or houses; 1,897 dwelling-houses of stone and timber built after the English manner: That from the insecurity of tenure, many of the English tenants did not then plough upon the lands nor use husbandry, because they feared to stock themselves with cattle and servants for such labours; nor did the Irish use tillage, from a similar and a more just apprehension of the continuance of their holdings:
That the English rested satisfied with the exorbitant rents they obtained from the Irish who grazed their lands, and if the Irish had been put away with their cattle, the British should have either forsaken their dwellings or endured great distress “on the suddain.”*
*How singular it is, and painful to think, that the only security the natives had against entire destruction was in the necessities, fears, and wants of their despoilers.
Yet the combination of the Irish “is dangerous to them, by robbing them and otherwise.” That the greatest number of Irish dwelt upon the lands of the City of London, which he attributes to the fact, that the estates of five of the companies were not set to tenants, but were still in the hands of agents, who finding the Irish more profitable than the British, were unwilling “to draw on the English, persuading the company that the lands were mountainous and unprofitable, not regarding the future security of the whole.” And, moreover, he found that the lessees of lands affirmed that they were not bound to plant with English, but may plant with any people they pleased, (an ingenious and just reading of the orders and conditions,) and that neither was the City of London bound by its patent to plant with English. On these rocks, honest Nicholas Pynnar decided, that the Plantation would fail egregiously.
In some senses, Nicholas was right. It is fortunate, that for the historic interest of this essay, we are not bound to follow “the Irish Society” through its various fortunes; nor to tell how the end of all these delinquencies and all these inquiries was a sequestration of their Irish property, (1624); how, when Wentworth* was Lord Deputy, (1625), he brought over with him his chaplain, Bramhall, afterwards Bishop of Derry, and a sore thorn in the Society’s side; how Sir Thomas Phillips, (1625), sent forth to the King, after due deliberation, “a most virulent accusation;” and how various other virulent accusations followed fast at the instigation of Bramhall, urging the King to revoke the charter and to take the lands into his own royal hands; how the patent of James was annulled by the Star Chamber, (1637), and Londonderry seized into his Majesty’s keeping; how the society and their terre-tenants were served with scire facias** and judgments, went duly against them, whereby the letters patent were revoked, cancelled, and made void, and the county and the city seized into the King’s hands; and how, finally, that sentence was reversed, and the Society, in the eventful year of 1641, were restored to all their possessions, the Bishop of Derry and Sir Thomas Phillips, notwithstanding.
*Commonly called Black Tom, and afterwards beheaded by the warrant of his loving master, Charles the First.
**Law jargon, which it would benefit none but lawyers to know anything about; and of which few of them do know anything.
The Irish Society have never been, and it is in nature that they ought not to be, popular as landlords. Even so late as three years since, an able and important document has been printed by the Corporation of Derry, being the Address of the Mayor to that body, detailing the numberless crying evils which this foreign and grasping society inflicts upon the country, which has the misfortune to be under its control. The address is a most inestimable document historical and political, and its statements will possibly, in the end, assist in bringing about the expulsion of the representatives of the original usurpation.* is here needless. They have no historical, and little general interest.
*At a time, when an incapable government is allowing a people to starve before the eyes of the civilized world, and when agragarian murder is scattering destruction through the land, why do they not sequestrate the possessions of the society—it was done before by Charles the Martyr—and divide them in fee-farms amongst the people, of course, giving the London shopkeepers what their predecessors paid for the estates and the value of their permanent improvements? But let me be understood to speak only of an absentee corporation of English traders, men who confer on our country no protection by their power and no glory by their station. I do not speak of those descendants of the original planters, who, born on our soil, have a title that no human being can question or doubt, and amongst whom have been found some of our most distinguished patriots, orators, and soldiers. But the incongruity of a set of London tradesmen, squandering our revenues upon their city, or their appetites, is too great, and the injustice too monstrous to be endured by any but a nation of the most spiritless slaves. Do the Irish people deserve the name?
In the Appendix to Mr. Haslett’s statement are the following charge and reply:—
Charges by the Corporation.
“That from the nature of their constitution the Society is incapable of rendering any permanent benefit to this country, as it is composed of merchants and tradesmen in the city of London, whose business requires their constant residence therein, whereby they are, of course, ignorant of the local circumstances and wants of the inhabitants of this district, and, besides, being only elected for two years, cannot possibly acquire the information proper to qualify them for the due discharge of their duties; and, accordingly, it appears by the accounts printed and published by them, that, in the course of the nine years ending March, 1833, they have received no less a sum than £77,000 from their estates in this country, while not more than £8,000 have been expended in it—a sum not equal to the amount divided among the members, or expended by them in taverns.
“That this sum is stated to have been expended on schools and public charities; yet your petitioners believe and confidently assert, that no sum has ever been expended by them to improve the farm-buildings or houses of the tenantry on their estates.
Reply by the Society.
“The Society are annually elected agreeably to the Charter, and whether the colonisation of the County of Derry from the City of London, and the different ramifications of the plan prescribed by the Charter were theoretically wise, is not a matter to be argued at the present moment: it is obvious it has been practically beneficial; and the present state of that county, which is the most peaceable and orderly in its conduct, and is an example to be pointed out to all the other parts of Ireland, plainly shows the benefits which hare resulted from it. The present unfortunate situation of the Corporation of Derry is certainly an exception, but it has been clearly shown not to have been produced by the Society, but by their own profuse expenditure and gross misapplication of the funds confided to their management. The nine years’ account referred to, instead of £8,000, shew that upwards of £35,000 have been expended in Ireland by the Society.
“The Society let their lands upon such easy rents, and upon such leases, as to make it the interest of the tenants to build.”*
*This observation, if correct when made, would certainly not be so if made now. There are no tenantry in this neighbourhood who complain more of their landlords, than do the tenants of the Honourable the Irish Society. No lands in the country are more highly rented than their late lettings.
How excellently, and with what force, are all the leading doctrines of the present popular party in this country, which is widening into a National Party, set forth in this vigorous statement of the Derry Corporation! Brave doctrines and manly, for the bold descendants of the Ulster planters.
But one or two entries, from their own historian, may be added to enable the reader to judge of the principles and mode of conduct of the Irish Society. One has been already given, which records their selfish opposition to the attempts made to raise Ballycastle to the benefits and commercial position of a town of import and export. Another, and more important, is the following:—
“The society sent precepts to all the companies, requiring each of them to send one or two artisans with their families, into Ulster, to settle there; and directions were also given, in order that Derry might not in future be peopled with Irish, that twelve Christ’s Hospital and other poor children should be sent there as apprentices and servants, and the inhabitants were to be prohibited from taking Irish apprentices. Directions were also given to the companies, to repair the churches on their several proportions, and furnish the ministers with a bible, common prayer book, and a communion cup. The trades which the society recommended as proper to introduce into Ulster were weavers of common cloth, fustians, and new stuffs, felt-makers and trimmers of hats, and hat band makers, lock-smiths and farriers, tanners and fellmongers, iron-makers, glassmakers, pewterers, coast fishermen, turners, basket-makers, tallow-chandlers, dyers, and curriers.”
And thus did it come to pass, by royal wisdom and plebeian cupidity, that the twelve companies of London became absentee proprietors of prodigious estates in Ireland, of towns, and cities, and castles, and lakes, and seas; a most singular settlement, unlike all of which there is remaining record. That on the whole they have well discharged their duties to themselves, and after a very scurvy fashion to their tenants, is true; but the most indisputable fact is that there they still are, a permanent and enduring monument raised by his own hands, to the wisdom and the honesty of James Stuart.
James had excellent ministers for his purposes. Cecil and Bacon divide between them the honour of devising most of the great stage tricks of his reign, Gunpowder plots, sham Irish plots, Spanish marriages, and Orders of Nobility. Thus, it is doubtful, whether it was the treasurer the chancellor, who hit upon the fortunate expedient, for a needy monarch, of creating the order of Baronetage, a most merchantable and profitable commodity. Considering, however, that there is extant an elaborate letter of Sir Francis Bacon to James the First, on the title, dignity, and precedence of Baronets, having been consulted by the King on these momentous points, and that Sir Nicholas Bacon, the Lord Chancellor’s near relation, of Redgrave, Suffolk, was the first creation, we may safely attribute some share of the invention to the latter.
The King, pressed for money, and at the same time having a most apt and plausible excuse to get it, namely, to provide for the safety of his infant Ulster Plantation, on the 22nd of May, 1611, founded the order of Baronets in England, the fees of each patent of creation being over £1000. It was an order of intermediate dignity between baron and knight. Baronets were permitted to bear in their coat armour, as an honourable augmentation, the arms of the ancient Kings of Ulster, either in a canton or scutcheon of pretence, being argent, a hand sinister, couped at the wrist, extended in pale gules; in other and more intelligible language than this jargon, the arms of Ulster were the Red Hand of O’Neill, degraded much by being made parcel of these undeserved and venal honours. In the patent creating this order, which the reader will find set out at length in its original Ciceronian Latin, in the 3d volume of John Selden’s works, (p. 842), James sets forth as the promoting cause of its institution, his anxiety to consummate the Plantation of Ulster, “illa non minimi momenti, inter alias imperii nostri gerendi curas, de Plantatione regni nostri Hiberniae, ac potissimum Ultoniae.” And in the same patent, he enumerates the objects of the Plantation, “ut oppida condantur, aedes et castra struantur, agri colantur, et id genus alia.” But these were pretences both of the Plantation of Ulster and the institution of baronetcy; the moving motive was nearly half a million of our present money, which the King received and pocketed. For in his instructions, preserved also in Selden, he carefully directs the commissioners appointed to superintend the patents, that “the treasurer of England should so order the receipt, (namely, of the baronet’s fees, or purchase money,) as no part thereof be mixed with our other treasure, but kept apart by itself to be wholly converted to that use to which it is given and intended.” That the object for which this levy was destined, was not, as was pretended, the Plantation of Ulster, but to furnish means for the profligate extravagance of James and his favourite Rochester,* is clear from the statement of Hume, that it was the duty of “Suffolk, a man of slender capacity, (who had succeeded Cecil,) to supply from an exhausted treasury, the profusion of James and his young favourite. The title of Baronet, invented by Salisbury, was sold; and two hundred patents of that species of knighthood, were disposed of for so many thousand pounds.” Lingard says, that this device for providing money, was the invention of Sir Anthony Shirley, for which the Earl of Salisbury promised him a large recompense “which he never had.” However this may have been, the baronetage was created and was sold; it was to descend to heirs male and to be confined to 200 gentlemen of three descents, (a promise scandalously broker, for in a few reigns there had been created over a thousand of them), and possessing at least £1000 a year. The patent was priced at £1,095, the estimated charge of thirty soldiers during three years, and purchasers were found; not so abundant, however, as the King wished, or his necessities required. In six years ninety-three patents were sold. “It is unnecessary,” Dr. Lingard says, “to add that the money never found its way to Ireland.”
*James the First was very immmoral. “He was charmed,” says Hume, “to hear of the amours of his , court, and listened with attention to every tale of gallantry.”—Hist, of England, vol. 6, p. 67, Edinburgh ed. 1805. He superintended the adulterous pleasures of Rochester and the profligate Countess of Essex, and was the worthless centre of all the scandals of his wretched court.
The order of Irish baronetcy, was instituted on the 13th September, 1619. It is now consolidated with the baronetcy of England and the Scotch baronetage of the Plantation of Nova Scotia.