The Desmond Rebellion, 1579-1582


Lord Grey’s instructions.

Whatever private hints the Queen might give to Grey, his official instructions contained nothing to Desmond’s advantage. On the contrary, he was warned to avoid the common fault of former governors, who had been too easy in granting pardons to notorious transgressors of the law, and had thereby bred boldness in subjects prone to offend. In future, pardons were not to be given without good reasons, nor at all in general terms, but only for some specified offence. On the other hand the Queen was anxious to have it known that she did not wish to extirpate the inhabitants of Ireland, as it had been falsely and maliciously reported. Outrages committed by soldiers were to be severely punished, and officers of high rank were not to be exempt. The rebellion was to be put down as quickly as possible, so that her Majesty’s charge might be reduced. Grey landed on August 12, but the sword of state was still in Munster, and he could not take the oath without it. Baltinglas and Feagh MacHugh O’Byrne were in force not much more than twenty miles from Dublin, and he resolved to attack them before Pelham’s arrival.[51]

State of the Pale.

Whatever hopes Desmond himself may have had from Grey, the change of government was not favourable to the chances of a rebellion near Dublin. The advent of a governor of high rank generally signified increased force, a more liberal expenditure of money, and more activity in official circles. Lord Chancellor Gerard had just landed on a part of the coast over which Baltinglas was for the moment supreme; and the latter had unaccountably neglected to make him a hostage. ‘Compared with the rest of his doings,’ said Pelham, ‘this doth argue that both he and his followers be the most foolish traitors that ever I heard of.’ The Chancellor reported that all the Leinster chiefs as well as O’Neill, O’Donnell, O’Rourke, and O’Connor Sligo were sworn to Baltinglas, and that he had the hearts of the whole country. The rebels had burned Harrington’s town of Newcastle, and openly displayed the Pope’s banner; but Kildare seemed to stand firm, and comforted the Chancellor by abusing the captains for giving false musters, saying that the Queen paid for 1,300 when she had only 700. But his most trusted follower, Gerald Fitzmaurice, had joined the rebels with his company. Sir William Stanley brought reinforcements from England, but in such plight as to argue no great probability of good service. Out of 120 calivers scarce twenty were serviceable, and the men were raw, ill-provided with necessaries, and fewer than their leader had been given to expect. The captains, blamed by Kildare, said their pay was at least three months in arrear, and of course all their men were discontented. Gormanston lay at Naas with 500 men, but the distrust was so general that Archbishop Loftus believed the throats of all Englishmen were about to be cut. ‘Unless strangers land,’ the Chancellor remarked, ‘I mistrust; and if they do I am of the Archbishop’s mind.’ Meanwhile the country south of Dublin was at the mercy of the rebels, and it was easy to know who sympathised with them. ‘They religiously prey,’ said Gerard, ‘overskipping some, many have taken oaths not to fight against them.’ 2,000 Scots were plundering loyal people in Ulster, and it was hard to see where it was to stop.[52]

Grey attacks the Irish in Glenmalure.

Baltinglas and Feagh MacHugh lay in the valley of the Liffey, somewhere about Ballymore Eustace. On the approach of Grey’s army from the side of Naas they withdrew into Glenmalure, a deep and rocky fortress—a combe, as the Devonian Hooker calls it—to the N.E. of Lugnaquilla. The glen was thickly wooded, and at least four miles long, and Colonel George Moore was ordered to enter it with about half the army. Grey was more a knight-errant than a general, and he determined to attack at once and in front, though warned by those about him of the risk he was running. His object was to drive the rebels from the covert, so that they might be shot or ridden down on the open hillside. Old Francis Cosby, general of the Queen’s kerne, who was a man of extraordinary personal courage and of unrivalled experience in Irish warfare, foresaw the danger; but he was not listened to, and he boldly advanced to what he believed to be almost certain death. Jacques Wingfield, the Master of the Ordinance, who doubtless remembered his own overthrow nineteen years before, was present with his two nephews, Peter and George Carew, and he vainly tried to dissuade them from risking their lives. ‘If I lose one,’ he then urged, ‘yet will I keep the other,’ and George, reserved, as Camden says, for greater things, consented to stay by his uncle. Sir Peter, with Captain Audley and Lieutenant Parker, were with Colonel Moore in front, while Sir Henry Bagenal and Sir William Stanley brought up the rear. ‘When we entered,’ says Stanley, ‘the foresaid glen, we were forced to slide sometimes three or four fathoms ere we could stay our feet. It was in depth at least a mile, full of stones, rocks, bogs, and wood; in the bottom a river full of loose stones, which we were driven to cross divers times. So long as our leaders kept the bottom, the odds were on our side. But our colonel, being a corpulent man, before we were half through the glen, being four miles in length, led us up the hill that was a long mile in height; it was so steep that we were forced to use our hands as well to climb as our feet, and the vanward being gone up the hill, we must of necessity follow…. It was the hottest piece of service for the time that ever I saw in any place. I was in the rearward, and with me twenty-eight soldiers of mine, whereof were slain eight, and hurt ten. I had with me my drum, whom I caused to sound many alarms, which was well answered by them that was in the rearward, which stayed them from pulling us down by the heels. But I lost divers of my dear friends. They were laid all along the wood as we should pass, behind trees, rocks, crags, bogs, and in covert. Yet so long as we kept the bottom we lost never a man, till we were drawn up the hill by our leaders, where we could observe no order; we could have no sight of them, but were fain only to beat the places where we saw the smoke of our pieces; but the hazard of myself and the loss of my company was the safeguard of many others… were a man never so slightly hurt, he was lost, because no man was able to help him up the hill. Some died, being so out of breath that they were able to go no further, being not hurt at all.'[53]

Defeat of the English.

Carew and Audley had a dispute at the outset, and the loud talk of two usually quiet and modest officers had a very bad effect on their men. The renegade captain, Gerald Fitzmaurice, had full information from Kildare’s people, if not from the Earl himself, and he knew the companies had never been together before. They contained many raw recruits, and he rightly calculated that they would be thrown into confusion by an unseen enemy. The soldiers fresh from England wore red or blue coats, and Maltby, who was with Grey in the open, saw how easily they were picked off. ‘The strangeness of the fight,’ he adds, ‘is such to the new-come ignorant men that at the first brunt they stand all amazed, or rather give back to the enemy…. Their coats stand them in no stead, neither in fashion nor in giving them any succour to their bodies. Let the coat-money be given to some person of credit, with which, and with that which is also bestowed on their hose, they may clothe themselves here with jerkins and hose of frieze, and with the same money bring them every man a mantle which shall serve him for his bedding and thereby shall not be otherwise known to the rebels than the old soldiers be.’ The recruits wavered, the kerne ran away to the enemy, and so ‘the gentlemen were lost.’

Stanley says not above thirty Englishmen were killed, but Moore, Cosby, Audley, and other officers were among them. Grey thought the rebels were fewer than the soldiers, who were stricken by panic. Sir Peter Carew was clad in complete armour, which proved more fatal than even a red coat. Suffocated from running up hill he was forced to lie down and was easily taken. It was proposed to hold him to ransom, ‘but one villain,’ says Hooker, ‘most butcherly, as soon as he was disarmed, with his sword slaughtered and killed him, who in time after was also killed.’

Three months afterwards George Carew rejoiced that he had the good fortune to slay him who slew his brother, and announced that he meant to lay his bones by his or to be ‘thoroughly satisfied with revenge.’ No doubt the survivor under such circumstances would be filled with remorseful bitterness; but his thirst for revenge, fully slaked by a murder three years later, can be scarcely justified even according to that ancient code which prescribes an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.[54]

Consequences of the affair.

When a civilised government receives a check from its revolted subjects, the moral effect is generally out of all proportion to the actual loss. But Pelham had effectually bridled Munster, and Maltby had for the moment nearly neutralised Connaught and Ulster also. O’Rourke and O’Donnell now both took arms in the Catholic cause, and there was every prospect of a general conflagration. Maltby rode post from Dublin northwards, and such was the dread which he had inspired, that O’Donnell at once disbanded his men, and wrote to say that nothing should make him swerve from his allegiance. The President hastened to Leitrim, where he found that O’Rourke had dismantled the castle. He immediately began to repair it, though he had to draw lime eight miles. The tanist Brian O’Rourke, who regarded the chief as his greatest enemy, helped the work, and gladly acted as sheriff under the President.

O’Rourke appeared at the edge of a wood with 1,200 men, of whom 500 were Scots; but Ulick Burke, who begged for the place of honour, charged at the head of 200 soldiers and 500 kerne. Some Scots were killed, and the building was not further interrupted. Leaving a strong garrison in the castle, Maltby then hurried back to Dublin, and arrived there in time to be a witness and a critic of the Glenmalure affair. He warned the English Government that Ulster was in a dangerous state, and that Tirlogh Luineach’s wife was determined to make a new Scotland of that province. ‘She has already planted a good foundation, for she in Tyrone, her daughter in Tyrconnell (being O’Donnell’s wife), and Sorleyboy in Clandeboy, do carry all the sway in the North, and do seek to creep into Connaught, but I will stay them from that.'[55]

Results of the defeat in Ulster.

The news of Grey’s defeat did not reach the officials at Cork for eleven days, and then only in a fragmentary way, but its effect upon the natives was instantaneous. Tirlogh Luineach, whom Captain Piers had just brought to terms, suddenly swept round the lower end of Lough Neagh, drove off the cattle of the loyalist Sir Hugh Magennis, and killed many of his men, demanded the title of O’Neill, and the old hegemony claimed by Shane, declared that he would stand in defence of religion while life lasted, and proposed to invade the Pale with 5,000 men. The Scots’ galleys lay in Lough Foyle, and effectual resistance seemed impossible. The Baron of Dungannon sent his cattle to the mountains, and hid himself in the woods, protesting his loyalty even ‘if all the Irishry in Ireland should rebel,’ and if he had nothing left but his bare body. But Magennis, after crouching for a while at Narrow Water, was forced to go as a suppliant to Tirlogh’s camp.

In the Pale, and in Connaught.

The southern side of the Pale was in no better case. A strong force under John of Desmond besieged Maryborough, and the constable was so closely watched that he dared not write. A private settler living in the unfinished castle of Disert, and expecting to be attacked every moment, sent the news to Dublin, but was forced to entrust his letter to a poor beggar-man. Ladders were ready in the woods to attack all posts. Some of Ormonde’s villages were burned, and his brother Piers, though he maintained his own ground, could not save Abbeyleix from the flames. The remnant of the O’Connors rose once more, and Ross MacGeohegan, the most loyal and useful subject in the midlands, was murdered by his half-brother Brian, whose mother was an O’Connor. ‘All is naught here,’ wrote Maltby from Dublin, ‘and like to be worse.’ He had to reach Athlone by a circuitous route, and found his province already in an uproar.[56]

The Spaniards appear at last.

It was in foreign aid that all Irish rebels mainly trusted; and it was supposed that the fleet would prevent any descent upon Munster, the only district where strangers from the South would have much chance of maintaining themselves. Winter had been directed to cruise about the mouth of the Shannon, having first sent some light craft to the Biscay coast for news. He was not to land himself, but if necessary to employ a naval brigade under Captain Richard Bingham. The admiral was not in good health; he hated the service, he hated Captain Bingham, and he was ready to run home as soon as there seemed the least chance of victuals running short. The fleet reached Ireland about the beginning of April, and early in July Winter threatened to sail away. But the Queen’s positive orders restrained him for a time, and Pelham was at hand to inculcate obedience, reminding him that there was generally a Michaelmas summer in Ireland. Pelham left Munster on the last day of August, on December 5th Winter sailed for England, and on the 12th the long-expected Spaniards arrived at Smerwick. The admiral was required to explain his very unseasonable departure, and it must be admitted that he had reasons, though a Drake or a Nelson might not have allowed them much weight. The ships were foul, and sailed too badly either for flight or chase, the sails and ropes were rotten from the unceasing wet of a Kerry summer, victuals were running short, there was a most plentiful lack of news, and the Shannon was a bad anchorage at the best. Whatever the Queen may have thought of the admiral’s conduct, it did not prevent her from sending him to Ireland again.[57]

An English sea-dog in Spain.

An attack on England could not be secretly prepared in Spain, for the carrying trade was in England’s hands. Armed rovers like Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher, half merchants and half buccaneers, came and went as they pleased upon the peninsular coast, in the confident hope that no Spaniard could catch them. Such a one was Captain James Sidee, an excellent seaman but not altogether free from suspicion of piracy, whom it had been necessary to pardon some years before. He sailed boldly into the splendid harbour of Ferroll, and wrote to the governor demanding the surrender of certain English subjects whom he supposed to be living there. He had perceived, he said grimly, that the country folk were in terror at his approach, but he was no pirate and would take no one by force, for Ferroll was the ‘king’s chamber which he was commanded not to break.’ But he wanted his own fellow-subjects, who had plundered a Plymouth ship at sea, and hinted plainly that he could take them if he liked. He said they were only cowkeepers who had left their cows, and John Fleming, James Fitzmaurice’s admiral, had run away from his creditors. The Irish bishop who was with them might find some better employment than keeping kine in Ireland. The Spanish governor’s answer does not appear; but one Barnaby O’Neill wrote to say that the bishop was noble, chaste, virtuous, and learned, while the heretic bishops of England were shoe-makers, scavengers, and pudding-makers, that Fleming was Lord Slane’s cousin, and that Sidee had served under that rebel, traitor, and coward, the Prince of Orange. Sidee retorted that the Silent Prince was far above his praise, and that he did not believe his correspondent was an O’Neill at all, for he had never heard his name. He might of course be some bastard, but he rather inclined to think that he was really one William Hall, a murderous thief well known in Ireland and Spain. Sir William Winter was of opinion that Sidee’s proceedings would not facilitate English diplomacy in Spain, and indeed it was an uncomfortable time for Englishmen there. But Philip was most anxious to avoid war—much too anxious indeed for the taste of his ambassadors in England—and Elizabeth’s subjects suffered more petty annoyance than actual hardship.[58]

Irish refugees in Spain.

William Carusse of Drogheda sailed from Tenby to Spain, with a cargo, in the ‘Gift of God,’ a vessel of only nineteen tons. Being chased by a man-of-war, he put into Santander, where he found an English ship and an English bark, and where he was boarded by the corregidor, and by two or three ecclesiastics who vainly searched for books, and seem to have helped themselves to six shillings. The national proverb that in Spain a little oil sticks to every hand was exemplified by Carusse’s treatment. He made friends with Mr. Browne, natural brother of Lady Kildare, and afterwards with Oliver Plunkett, a Drogheda gentleman who had served Spain in Flanders. Both befriended him with the Spanish authorities; and as they meditated an invasion of Ireland, it was not their cue to make enemies there. Browne had a map of Ireland drawn by himself, and showed by his conversation that he knew the coast. Plunkett declared that the conquest of the island would be child’s play, but that Dublin and Drogheda might give trouble. Lord Gormanston had just married a relative or friend of Plunkett’s, who was most anxious to send her a letter of congratulation, but Carusse refused to carry letters. His sails were then taken away, and by Browne’s advice he gave six ducats to the corregidor, four to a scrivener, and two each to two other officers. Then the sails were restored. Five hundred ducats belonging to him were impounded, but afterwards restored, with a deduction of four as a fee for counting them. A further fee of three ducats and expenses was exacted by Browne, and then Carusse was allowed to go free. He noted that Plunkett had three large ships under his orders, and he conversed with several Irishmen, including a priest and a friar. All talked long and loud of the coming conquest, and the ecclesiastics dwelt with unction on the bishoprics and other preferments which would be vacant. Meanwhile the very Lord Gormanston about whom Plunkett spoke was giving information to the Government. It was, he said, a religious war, and religion would draw men far; nevertheless, he could do a great deal if he had only money. Ireland was as corrupt as Spain.[59]

Devastation of Kerry.

The Spaniards land.

The fleet were lying at Ventry when the news came that Pelham had gone to Dublin, and left the troops under Sir George Bourchier’s command. Bourchier immediately entered Kerry with 600 or 700 men, and with the help of Lord Fitzmaurice began to devastate the country still further. From Castle Island to Dingle, on both sides of Slieve Mish, the powers of fire were tried to the utmost. An Englishman who had been with Sanders was taken and executed, and Lady Desmond was closely chased for two miles. The Earl fled into Limerick, and the wretched people crowded down to the sea, and submitted to the admiral, as the lesser of two evils. Winter persuaded Bourchier to spare them, on condition of their maintaining a garrison of 200 foot and 30 horse at Tralee, and of giving hostages for good behaviour, otherwise they were told that Sir George would execute his commission strictly; and his commission was ‘to burn their corn, spoil their harvest, kill and drive their cattle.’ The 4,000 cows which had been driven in were then spared, and so were many prisoners poor and rich. Winter sailed away just as the hostile expedition was leaving Corunna, and one week later four Spanish vessels came into Smerwick, where they landed men and tents, and began to fortify on the old ground. Two other ships were taken at sea by the Huguenots, who carried them into Rochelle. The more successful part of the squadron took a homeward-bound Frenchman with 56,000 codfish from Newfoundland, killed the captain and three men, and brought the remaining twenty-eight to Ireland, where they used them as labourers. One of the Spanish ships was a galley with thirty-two oars, and they gave out that she was powerful enough to batter castles. But Captain Thomas Clinton, who was cruising about the mouth of the Shannon, said he would fight her had he but ten musketeers on board his small vessel. The strangers were nearly all Italians, and only about 600 men seem to have landed, though there were rumours of more coming. Friar Matthew Oviedo was apostolic commissary, and with him were Dr. Ryan, papal Bishop of Killaloe, two Jesuit preachers, and three or four friars. Desmond came down the coast to meet them, and attacked Ardfert and Fenit castles with their aid. But they had brought up only small cannon, and the Irish garrisons easily beat them off. Captain Bingham contemptuously designates the rank and file as ‘poor simple bisognos, very ragged, and a great part of them boys’; but they had 5,000 stand of arms, and four kegs of Spanish reals were given to Desmond. Ormonde immediately prepared to take the field, and Grey, who at first scarcely believed that the strangers had landed, thought it better to temporise with Tirlogh Luineach, to whom Sanders had offered the sovereignty of Ulster. If the Queen would give him a butt or two of sack, it might, for the moment, make him forget to urge inadmissible claims. ‘As toys please children, so to Bacchus knights the lick of grapes is liking, of which crew this is a royal fellow.'[60]

Ormonde’s march to Smerwick.

Just three weeks after the landing of the Spaniards, Ormonde set out from Cork with 1,600 men. He was completely ignorant of the enemy’s force, but was anxious to have the first brush with them; and he passed the mountains into Kerry without his full armour and without camp furniture. He learned at once that Desmond and his brother John, Baltinglas, Piers Grace, and Sanders, with most of the foreigners, were strongly posted at Bungunder near Tralee. They gave out that they would fight, but fell back at Ormonde’s approach, and left his way open to Smerwick. The enemy in the field broke up into small bodies, but the fort was too strong to attempt without artillery. After conferring with the invaders, Baltinglas returned to his district, thus passing, as John of Desmond and Sanders did, twice unmolested right across Ireland. Hearing that Desmond had got into his rear, Ormonde turned to pursue, when the garrison of Smerwick made a sally and tried to provoke a fight. But Ormonde was too cautious thus to be drawn under their guns, and went on to surprise Desmond’s bivouac near Castlemaine. He took a few Spanish prisoners as well as some ‘painted tables, altar-cloths, chalices, books, and other such furniture said to be the nuncio’s.’ The Earl left his troops in the county of Limerick, and went home to help his wife to make great cheer, for the Lord Deputy Grey had written to him for 1,000 beeves, and he remarked that he might as well ask him to kill all the enemy with a breath. 500, by great exertion, might perhaps be collected. He found time to write a letter to a Spanish nobleman and to send him a hawk taken, as he was careful to mention, out of one of the many castles from which Desmond had been driven to woods and mountains. He told his correspondent that he was busy hunting the wild Biskyes and Italians, and that the rebel Earl would soon be hanged and quartered, like his brother James. ‘As for the foreigners,’ he added, ‘this much I will assure you, that they curse the Pope and as many as sent them, which they shall shortly have better cause to do.'[61]

Rapid voyage of Bingham.

Having had time to put his squadron into something like trim, Winter was ordered back to Ireland, Bingham accompanying him as vice-admiral. Sailing from Harwich with a fine breeze from the N.E., they ran through the Straits and down Channel as far as Ryde, where some days were lost waiting for orders. When the word was at last given, the wind held in the same point, but the sea rose and the ships parted company in Portland Race. Captain Bingham, in the ‘Swiftsure,’ looked into Falmouth, but did not see the admiral, and chose to think that he was gone ahead, whereas he was really far astern. Bingham ran past the Land’s End, where the wind changed to W.N.W., made Cape Clear in the morning, and anchored at the mouth of Valentia harbour. Winter strongly objected to his second-in-command’s excessive zeal, and it is plain that they hated each other cordially. In great glee probably at having outstripped his chief, the strenuous Bingham went into Valentia with the boats, but found only Captain Clinton, who directed him to Smerwick. There he anchored near the fort, after a run of sixty hours from Portland, of which ten had been passed in Valentia harbour; yet he tells us that the ‘Swiftsure’ was the slowest ship in the fleet. Ormonde was gone already; and the garrison, with the help of the peasantry, were busy strengthening their works. Bingham prepared to cut out their ships; but they towed them in almost aground, and, after exchanging shots with them, he made up his mind that the works could not be taken without heavy ordnance. Fourteen pieces were mounted on the rampart, the largest being of the kind called sakers. John of Desmond and all the foreigners were at the fort, and Bingham understood that many of the latter would leave Ireland if they could. The chill October weather did not suit the Italians, and many of them died. Brave Romans the Irish called them, but the Englishman said they were as poor rascals as he had ever met with.[62]

Grey goes to Kerry.

Towards the end of October, the Lord Deputy, much hindered by flooded rivers and a bad commissariat, slowly made his way by Kilkenny into the county of Limerick. At Rathkeale he was joined by the English companies whom Ormonde had with him, and led the united force to Dingle. The Earl seems to have returned himself. Among the newly arrived captains was Walter Raleigh, burning with anxiety to distinguish himself, and ready to tempt fortune to almost any extent. When the camp at Rathkeale broke up, he held his own company in ambush until the main column had gone to some distance. Then came some wretched kernes to pick up what they could, as the lepers came to the Syrian camp before Samaria. Raleigh took them all prisoners, including one who carried a bundle of osiers, used by the Irish as halters, and who imprudently said that they were to hang up English churls. ‘They shall now serve an Irish kerne,’ said Raleigh, and this jester out of season was hanged forthwith. The other prisoners, says Hooker, were treated according to their deserts, but we are not told what those deserts were. The whole army then marched as far as Dingle, where they encamped to wait for the admiral, who lingered at Kinsale after his rough voyage. After conferring with Bingham and viewing the fort, Grey agreed that regular approaches were necessary, and until the fleet came nothing could be done, for the army was not provided either with trenching tools or heavy guns.[63]

The fleet at Smerwick.

More than a week later an express came from Winter to say that he had been delayed by weather, but was now in Smerwick harbour, and that three provision ships had come from Cork and Limerick. Grey at once rode to Smerwick from his camp near Dingle, and Winter agreed to land eight pieces of cannon. Next day was Sunday, part of which Grey spent with Bingham studying the ground, and on Monday he moved his camp to near the doomed fort. At his approach the garrison hung out the Pope’s banner and saluted the Lord Deputy with a round shot, which very nearly killed Jacques Wingfield. A small party sallied forth and skirmished with the advanced guard of the English under cover of a heavy fire from musketeers lying in the ditch. The practice was remarkably bad, for the only damage done to the English by more than 600 rounds was to graze Captain Zouch’s leg without breaking the skin. Grey pitched his tent near the fort, and that night a trench was made. The sailors went to work with a will, and two pieces were mounted, which began to play next morning at a distance of about 240 yards from the work. The enemy had mounted their guns so badly that only two seriously annoyed the besiegers. These were disabled by two o’clock; and the garrison were reduced to musketry and to harquebusses which they fired from rests. Every little skirmish went against the Italians, and in spite of four sallies the sappers worked up that night to within 120 yards of the ditch.

The foreigners cannot maintain themselves.

The only serious casualty happened next morning. Good John Cheke, as Grey calls him, was a son of the great scholar, and inherited most scholarlike poverty, although he was Burghley’s nephew. Tired of living as a dependant on his uncle’s favour, and much more in awe of him than of Spanish bullets, he begged a horse from the great Lord Treasurer and resolved to seek his fortune in Ireland. Incautiously raising his head above the trench, he received a fatal wound, and Grey descants at great length upon his edifying end. ‘He made,’ wrote the Puritan warrior to the Queen, ‘so divine a confession of his faith, as all divines in either of your Majesty’s realms could not have passed, if matched, it; so wrought in him God’s spirit, plainly declaring him a child of His elected.’ Grey observed that the fatal volley came from under a wooden penthouse, and pointed out the spot to Winter, who himself laid the guns. The second shot dislodged the musketeers, and at the fourth a flag of truce was shown on the ramparts. The Pope’s banner had first been struck and replaced by a black and a white banner. This was to warn Desmond, who had promised to be on the neighbouring hills with 4,000 men. The furling of the black flag was a first signal of distress; but no help came, and a parley was asked for. Sir James Fitzgerald of Decies had been given by Desmond to the Italians with instructions to exact 1,000l. ransom; he was now brought out and liberated. The camp-master, Alexander Bartoni, a Florentine, then came into the trenches, and said that certain Spaniards and Italians had been lured to Ireland by false representations, that they had no quarrel with Queen Elizabeth, and that they were quite ready to depart as they had come. A Spanish captain followed, but he made no pretence of being sent by his king, or of having communicated with any higher authority than Recalde, the governor of Bilboa. The Florentine said they were all sent by the Pope for the defence of the Catholica fede, and Grey, in true Puritan style, replied that his Holiness was ‘a detestable shaveling, the right Antichrist and general ambitious tyrant over all right principalities, and patron of the diabolica fede.’ All conditions were refused, and in the evening the commandant, Sebastian de San Josefo, a Bolognese, came himself into the trenches and begged for a truce till morning.

The surrender.

The massacre.

The interpreter was Oliver Plunkett, who expected no mercy and therefore opposed all negotiations, and his double-dealing may have caused such confusion as to make it possible to say that the garrison had surrendered on promise of their lives. The strangers may even have thought they had such a promise, but it is clear that Grey’s terms were unconditional surrender or storm as soon as practicable. The unfortunate Sebastian embraced his knees, and promised to evacuate the place unconditionally next morning. Catholic writers accuse San Josefo of cowardice, but he could not help surrendering, for the fort had been heavily battered, and there was no chance of relief. To make assurance doubly sure the English worked all night and mounted two fresh guns before sunrise. On the morrow about a dozen officers came out with their ensigns trailed and surrendered the fort at discretion. Grey distributed them among his officers to be held to ransom for their profit. The arms and stores were secured, ‘and then,’ says Arthegal himself, ‘put I in certain bands, who straight fell to execution. There were 600 slain.’ Hooker adds that Mackworth and Walter Raleigh were the captains on duty, and that they superintended the butchery.[64]

The massacre approved by the Queen.

The poor Italians had no commissions and were treated as filibusters, just as the Spaniards would have treated Drake had they been able to catch him; but many blamed Grey, though he does not himself seem to have been conscious that he had done anything extraordinary. Sussex was among the critics, though he had plenty to answer for himself, but the Queen approved of what had been done. At the top of the despatch sent in answer to the Lord Deputy’s, she wrote as follows, in the fine Roman hand which sometimes contrasts so strangely with her studiously involved and obscure phraseology:—”The mighty hand of the Almighty’s power hath shewed manifest the force of his strength in the weakness of feeblest sex and minds this year to make men ashamed ever after to disdain us, in which action I joy that you have been chose the instrument of his glory which I mean to give you no cause to forethink.” She censured Grey rather for sparing some of the principals than for slaying the accessories; not for what he had done, but for what he had left undone; for the object was to prevent such expeditions in future. Elizabeth, who belonged to her age, probably wondered that anybody should object. Nor does it appear that the Catholic powers made any official complaint; it was their habit to do likewise.

Reflections on the event.

Those who condescended to excuse Grey urged that 600 prisoners would be very inconvenient to an army of 800, and that lack of provisions made delay dangerous. But there were eight ships of war and four provision-vessels in the bay, which might have carried most of the prisoners, and enough biscuit, bacon, oil, fish, rice, beans, peas, and barley were found in the fort to support 600 men for six months. The 4,000 stand of arms taken might easily have been conveyed on shipboard. Between 300l. and 400l. was found in Spanish reals, and this money was divided among the soldiers, who were in their habitual half-paid state. If the Pope recruited for this enterprise, as he did for the former one, among the brigands of Umbria and Samnium, there would be a reason for treating the rank and file rigorously while sparing the officers, but this point is not raised in the official correspondence.

The best defence of Grey, and yet not a very good one, is to be found in the cruelty of the age. After the fall of Haarlem Alva butchered three or four times as many as perished at Smerwick. Santa Cruz put to death the crews of several French ships after the fight at Terceira in the Azores. It would be easy to multiply examples, but it may suffice to say that Captain Mackworth afterwards fell into the hands of the Offaly O’Connors, who mutilated him horribly and flayed him alive.[65]

Reasons for failure of foreign invaders.

The Four Masters say that the name of the Italians exceeded the reality, and that either Limerick, Cork, or Galway would at first have opened their gates to them. This is probable enough, and at any rate Smerwick was a bad place for their enterprise, for it was hardly to be supposed that England would not have the command of the sea. The same mistake was made more than once by the French in later times, and it may be assumed that Ireland is unassailable except by an overwhelming force. The Spaniards at one period, and the French at another, might often have landed an army large enough to overtax the actual resources of the Irish Government. For a time they might have been masters of the country, and would at first have commanded the sympathies of the people. But the rule of a foreign soldiery would soon become more irksome than the old settled government, and the invading general would find as little real native help as Hannibal found in Latium, or as Charles Edward found in Lancashire. Had Limerick, Galway, or Cork admitted Sanders and his Italians the struggle might have been prolonged, but while an English fleet kept the sea, the result could hardly have been doubtful.

Composition of the Smerwick garrison.

The garrison at Smerwick consisted chiefly of Italians, with a contingent from Northern Spain, and the numbers were variously estimated at from 400 to 700. Two hundred are said to have been veteran soldiers, but opinions differed as to the general quality of the men. Grey, when he saw their corpses, mused over them as gallant and goodly personages, while Bingham said they were beggarly rascals. Among the officers were a few Spaniards, but the majority were from Italy: Rome, Florence, Milan, Bologna, Genoa, and Bolsena being all represented.


A few Irishmen who had allowed themselves to be entrapped were hanged, and some women with them. An Englishman who followed Dr. Sanders, a friar who is not named, and Oliver Plunkett, were reserved for a peculiarly hard fate. Their arms and legs were broken, and they were hanged on a gallows on the wall of the fort. Plunkett, who was examined before his death, said that twenty-four sail at Corunna and Santander were ready to sail for Ireland. Lord Westmoreland was to be sent over by the Pope, and Charles Browne, at Santander, was in correspondence with Inglefield and others.[66]

Account of Fort Del Oro.

Not only was the extreme point of Kerry a bad place to attack Queen Elizabeth, but the fort itself was ill suited for defence. The only water supply was from streams half-a-mile off on each side, and the work was too small for those whom it had to protect. Its greatest length was 350 feet, and its average breadth was about 100, and 50 square feet of ground to each person is but scanty room. ‘The thing itself,’ says Sir Nicholas White, ‘is but the end of a rock shooting out into the Bay of Smerwick, under a long cape, whereupon a merchant of the Dingle, called Piers Rice, about a year before James Fitzmaurice’s landing, built a castle, under pretence of gaining by the resort of strangers thither a-fishing, whereas in very truth it was to receive James at his landing, and because at that very instant time, a ship laden with Mr. Furbisher’s new-found riches happened to press upon the sands near to the place, whose carcase and stores I saw lie there, carrying also in his mind a golden imagination of the coming of the Spaniards called his building Down-enoyr, which is as much as to say, the “Golden Down.” The ancient name of the bay, Ardcanny… from a certain devout man named Canutius, which upon the height of the cliffs, as appears at this day, built a little hermitage to live a contemplative there.’

White’s description is very good, but it applies only to the little promontory which contains the salient seaward angle of the work, and where embrasures are still clearly traceable. The lines on the land side, which did not exist at the time of White’s visit, are visible enough, being covered with roughish pasture, but the ‘mariner’s trench’ is undecipherable owing to tillage. There was a bridge between the mainland and the outer rock, and Rice’s fortalice was no doubt confined to the ‘island.'[67]

State of Connaught.

In the meantime, O’Rourke had risen and attacked Maltby’s garrison at Leitrim. The President had but 400 English, half of whom were newcomers and ‘simple enough,’ and he had to ferry them over the flooded Shannon in cots. The gentlemen of the county advised him not to face such great odds, but 100 of their kerne behaved well, and he put a bold face on it. The O’Rourkes and their Scots allies railed exceedingly against the Queen and exalted the Pope; but they did not dare to face the dreaded President, and disappeared, leaving him to burn Brefny at his will. Ulick Burke seemed at first inclined to serve faithfully, and Maltby was disposed to trust him, but John and William were in open rebellion, and their youngest sister begged for protection. ‘I pray you,’ she wrote to the President, ‘receive me as a poor, destitute, and fatherless gentlewoman…. I found nowhere aid nor assistance, and no friends since my lord and father departed, but what I found at your worship’s hands.’ A few days later Ulick styled himself MacWilliam, and joined John, who accepted the position of Tanist, in forcibly collecting corn for the papal garrison. They announced that they would hang all priests who refused to say mass, and Maltby reported that the papal Bishop of Kilmacduagh was leading them to the devil headlong. They demolished Loughrea, and most of the castles between the Shannon and Galway Bay. Communications with Munster were interrupted, and Maltby, self-reliant as he was, began to fear for the safety of Galway, where there was no stock of provisions, and no artillery worth mentioning. Affairs were at this pass when Grey’s success at Smerwick reduced the rebellion in Connaught to insignificance.[68]

Want of money.

Grey was not long in Ireland before he encountered the great Elizabethan problem of how to make bricks without straw. Treasurer Wallop estimated the soldiers’ pay at 6,000l. worth, exclusive of extraordinaries, and the victualling difficulties were as great as ever. The English officials in Dublin seldom gave Ormonde a good word, but on this head their complaints chimed in with his. The victualler at Cork warned him not to reckon on more than twelve days’ biscuit and wine, and there were no means of brewing at Cork. ‘I know,’ said the Earl, ‘it is sour speech to speak of money; I know it will be also wondered at how victuals should want…. I never had for me and my companies one hundred pounds worth of victual, and this being true, I can avow that some have told lies at Court to some of your councillors—yea, not only in this, but in many other things.’

‘The soldiers,’ said Sir William Stanley, ‘are so ill chosen in England that few are able or willing to do any service, but run away with our furniture, and when they come into England there is no punishment used to them, by means whereof we can hardly keep any.’

Meantime there were loud complaints of abuses in purveyance for the Viceregal household, and the Irish Council could think of no better plan than to swear the purveyors, and cut off their ears in case of perjury. Wallop reported that bribes were openly taken in official circles; that was the usual course, though he had never given or taken any himself.[69]

Kildare in charge of the Pale.

When Grey went to Munster he left Kildare to act as general in the Pale. With the whole force of the country, and with 1,400 men in the Queen’s pay, including garrisons, he undertook to defend Dublin to the south, and to do some service against the rebels. Six hundred men were on the Ulster frontier, and these also were to be at his disposal in case of necessity. He and his son-in-law, the Baron of Delvin, were accused of conspiring to turn the war to their own advantage, by promising everything and doing nothing. Should the Pope’s title prevail, they would be all-powerful; should the Queen be victorious they would at least make money out of the business. It was arranged that Kildare should have 600 men paid by the country in addition to the Queen’s troops. He preferred to take the money, and to raise 400 kernes himself; ‘but I think,’ said Wallop, ‘he will put all that in his purse and three parts of his entertainment of his horsemen, and fifty shillings a day for his diet. In this town he lieth for the most part, and spendeth not five pounds a week, keeping his chamber with a board not anyways an ell long.’ A civilian named Eustace, ‘properly learned, but a papist in the highest degree,’ was accused of fomenting treason among the nominally loyal, and Gerard, by remaining ‘a secret ghostly father to him for a time,’ made him fear for his own neck, and induced him to give information against many persons in the Pale. Maltby took care to remind the Irish Government that both Kildare and Ormonde had given security for John and Ulick Burke, and that Kildare was the same man that he had always been and always would be. It was plain that those to whom the conduct of the war was entrusted did not care to end it, and that only English officers and soldiers could really be depended on. An occasional raid into the Wicklow mountains did not advance matters much, and Feagh MacHugh was able to burn Rathcoole, a prosperous village ten miles from Dublin, and to make the very suburbs tremble for their own safety. Kildare made light of the burning of Rathcoole, and threw the blame on inferior officers; but this was not the view taken by the Council generally.[70]

Kildare is strongly suspected.

When Grey returned to Dublin he found the whole official circle bent upon disgracing Kildare, and after some days’ consideration he summoned the general body of nobles to meet the Council, ostensibly for the discussion of military dispositions. Delvin saw that he was suspected, and vehemently demanded an enquiry, putting in a written declaration in answer to rumoured accusations. The full Council, including Kildare, found this statement inconsistent with known facts, and committed him to the Castle. Then Gerard, who had conducted the private investigation, rashly disclosed his whole case, and openly accused the Earl of complicity with the treason of Baltinglas. Wallop, who believed that no good thing could come out of Galilee, observed that the Chancellor ‘would needs have the attorney and serjeant by, who are of this country birth, and so were many councillors then present, by means of which it is now in every man’s mouth what the Earl is to be charged with.’

The Vice-Treasurer adds that his lands were worth 3,000l. a year, but that he had taken good care to return them to England as worth only 1,500l., that the only road towards good government lay through severity, and that unless traitors were made to pay both in person and lands, Ireland would always be what it long had been,—’the sink of the treasure of England.’ Waterhouse, whose office it was to look after unconsidered trifles of revenue, thought the original cause of war was Kildare’s military commission, and that treason should be made to pay its own expenses. ‘I will hear your honour’s opinion,’ he wrote to Walsingham, ‘whether her Majesty will be content to have her great charges answered out of the livings of the conspirators, and to use a sharp and a severe course without respect of any man’s greatness, wheresoever law will catch hold, or whether all faults must be lapped up in lenity with pardons, protections, and fair semblance, as in times past; if severity, then is there hope enough of good reformation; if mildness, then discharge the army and officers, and leave this nation to themselves, for sure the mean will do no good. We must embrace one of these extremities.'[71]

Kildare and Delvin prisoners in England.

Grey could not deny that appearances were strong against the Earl, and he ordered his arrest, giving full credit for their exertions to Gerard and Loftus. He believed that ‘greediness of pay and arrogant zeal to Popish government’ were the stumbling-blocks of great personages in Ireland, and that Delvin certainly was ‘a wicked creature who had cut the poor Earl’s throat.’ As if to add to the suspicion, Kildare’s son and heir ran off to the O’Connors, and they refused to let him go when Grey sent for him. At last, fearing the construction that might be put upon this, they handed him over to Ormonde, and he was shut up in the Castle with his father and Lord Delvin. All three were sent over to England, Secretary Fenton carrying the despatches, and Gerard going with him to tell his own story.[72]

The Munster rebellion drags on.

The capture of Smerwick did not put down the Munster rebellion; but Ormonde, or some of those about him, contemptuously reported that Desmond, his brother, and Baltinglas had ‘but a company of rascals and four Spaniards, and a drum to make men believe that they had a great number of the strangers.’ Both Youghal and Ross thought themselves in danger, and Wallop reported that communications between the capital and Limerick were only kept up by ‘simple fellows that pass afoot in nature of beggars, in wages not accustomed.’ Grey and Ormonde having turned their backs, Desmond appeared again near Dingle, and Bingham felt that there might be an attack at any moment. Half of Captain Zouch’s men were dead and buried, the survivors being too ill to work or fight. Captain Case’s company were little better, and they would have made no resistance without Bingham and his sailors, who worked with a will and raised a breastwork tenable by 20 men against 2,000 kernes and gallowglasses. The men were put on short allowance, and having thus made the provisions last thirteen days longer than they would otherwise have done, Bingham was compelled to return to England. His crew were so reduced by spare diet that they were unable to work the ship up Channel, and had to run into Bristol. He left Ireland, to quote a correspondent of Walsingham, ‘in as great confusion as the Tower of Babylon was a building.’ There were more soldiers in Munster than had been since the first conquest, and war material was abundant. But no two officers agreed with each other personally, or were agreed upon the policy to be pursued. Ormonde was in Dublin, looking after his own interests, and leaving his lieutenants to shift for themselves. Sir Warham St. Leger, Chief Commissioner at Cork, claimed superiority over Sir George Bourchier at Kilmallock, while the latter acted as a captain of free lances and granted protections to whom he pleased. Sir William Morgan at Youghal would give way to neither, and there seemed no escape from the difficulty but once more to appoint an English President, ‘upright, valiant, severe, and wise.’ In the meantime the rebellion was as strong as ever, and what the rebels spared the soldiers ravaged. In Connaught the young Burkes daily razed houses and fences, northern Leinster lay waste, in Munster nothing was left standing save towns and cities, and Ulster was ready to break out on the smallest provocation.[73]

Official attack upon Ormonde.

The English officials all maintained that Ormonde had shown himself unfit to conduct the war. One writer estimates his emoluments at 215l. a month, and another at 3,677l. a year, and the first result of a peace would be to deprive him of these comfortable subsidies. He was mixed up with Irish families and Irish lawsuits, and could not have a single eye to the public service. He owed the Queen over 3,000l. in rents, and the war was an excuse for not paying. Nor was his system of warfare calculated to finish a rebellion, for all experienced officers said that could be done only by settled garrisons. ‘He followeth,’ says his enemy St. Leger, ‘with a running host, which is to no end but only wearing out and consuming of men by travel, for I can compare the difference between our footmen and the traitors to a mastiff and wight greyhound.’ According to the same authority Ormonde was generally disliked, and those whom he was set over would ‘rather be hanged than follow him, finding their travel and great pains altogether in vain.’ He procured the imprisonment of the Baron of Upper Ossory, whom he accused of treason, of harbouring papists and consorting with rebels, and of meeting Desmond after he had been proclaimed; but Wallop thought the Earl coveted his neighbour’s land, being ‘so imperious as he can abide none near him that dependeth not on him.’ Spenser’s friend Ludovic Bryskett said the Lord General did nothing of moment with his 2,000 men, and as for his toil and travel, ‘the noble gentleman was worthy of pity to take so much labour in vain.’ Wallop, Waterhouse, Fenton, and St. Leger agreed that Ireland could only be pacified by severity, and that Ormonde was not the man to do it. But perhaps the heaviest, as it is certainly the most graphic, indictment was that which Captain Raleigh forwarded to Walsingham.[74]

Adventures of Raleigh.

Lord Barrymore’s eldest son David, Lord Roche’s eldest son Maurice, Florence MacCarthy, Patrick Condon, and others, long professed loyalty because it seemed the winning side. But Barry’s country lay open to the seneschal of Imokilly, and in passing through it Raleigh had an adventure by which the world was near losing some of its brightest memories. On his return from Dublin, and having at the time only two followers with him and as many more within shot, he was attacked at a ford by the seneschal with seventy-four men. The place seems to have been Midleton or Ballinacurra, and Raleigh’s aim was to gain an old castle, which may have been Ballivodig, to which his Irish guide at once fled. In crossing the river Henry Moile was unhorsed, and begged his captain not to desert him. Raleigh rode back into the river, and recovered both man and horse; but in his hurry to remount, Moile fell into a bog on the off side, while his horse ran away to the enemy. ‘The captain nevertheless stood still, and did abide for the coming of the residue of his company, of the four shot which as yet were not come forth, and for his man Jenkin, who had about 200l. in money about him; and sat upon his horse in the meanwhile, having his staff in one hand, and his pistol charged in the other.’ Like an Homeric hero he kept the seneschal’s whole party at bay, although they were twenty to one. Raleigh modestly left the details to others, and only reported that the escape was strange to all.[75]

Raleigh’s policy.

Two days later David Barry was in open rebellion, and Raleigh minded to take possession of Barry’s Court and of the adjoining island—the ‘great island’ on which Queenstown now stands. He had been granted the custody of these lands by Grey, but Ormonde interposed delays, and Raleigh, who was as fond of property as he was careless of danger, greatly resented this. ‘When,’ he said, ‘my Lord Deputy came, and Barry had burned all the rest, the Lord General, either meaning to keep it for himself—as I think all is too little for him—or else unwilling any Englishman should have anything, stayed the taking thereof so long, meaning to put a guard of his own in it, as it is, with the rest, defaced and spoiled. I pray God her Majesty do not find, that—with the defence of his own country assaulted on all sides, what with the bearing and forbearing of his kindred, as all these traitors of this new rebellion are his own cousins-german, what by reason of the incomparable hatred between him and the Geraldines, who will die a thousand deaths, enter into a million of mischiefs, and seek succour of all nations, rather than they will ever be subdued by a Butler—that after her Majesty hath spent a hundred thousand pounds more she shall at last be driven by too dear experience to send an English President to follow these malicious traitors with fire and sword, neither respecting the alliance nor the nation…. This man having been Lord General of Munster now about two years, there are at this instant a thousand traitors more than there were the first day. Would God the service of Sir Humfry Gilbert might be rightly looked into; who, with the third part of the garrison now in Ireland, ended a rebellion not much inferior to this in two months.’ A little later, Raleigh reported that he had repaired Belvelly Castle, which commands the strait between the island and the mainland, but that Ormonde meant to rob him of the fruits of his trouble and expense, and to undo what he had done. The soldiers, he declared, cursed the change which made them followers of the Earl rather than of the Lord Deputy, and spent their strength in ‘posting journeys’ with convoys to Kilkenny instead of in service against the rebels.[76]

Ormonde loses his command.

Grey yielded to the arguments of those about him, and announced that there was no help while Irish government and Ormonde were continued, adding that neither Walsingham nor Leicester would believe it. Leicester at least, who corresponded frequently with Maltby, was quite willing to believe anything against their common enemy, and it may be that the present favourite prevailed over the absent friend. At all events the Queen yielded, and Grey was allowed to tell Ormonde that his authority as Lord Lieutenant of Munster was at an end. The Earl submitted cheerfully and with many loyal expressions, saying that he would do such service without pay as would prove him no hireling. His property, he declared, was wasted in her Majesty’s service and the loss of salary would be therefore great, but to lose his sovereign’s favour and to be traduced in England was far worse. There was now a disposition in high quarters to grant pardons freely; had he known it he could have brought in every man in Munster.

He had thought nothing worth notifying while Desmond was still at large, but he would now make a collection of his services, and the Queen should see that he had not been inactive, and that his activity had not been fruitless. In private he had confessed to having borne too long with some for old acquaintance’ sake; but blamed Sussex for forgetting his friends, and could not excuse Captain Zouch, who by sickness had lost 300 men out of 450. Walsingham, in a moment of irritation, had said that his appointment had resulted in the death of only three rebels. Three thousand would be nearer the mark, and that he was ready to prove.[77]

An amnesty.

The dismissal of Ormonde was intended by Grey and those about him to form part of a policy of the severest and most unsparing repression, and it was assumed that Gilbert, or some equally uncompromising person, would be appointed President. The Queen, on the other hand, considered it merely as a piece of economy, for she determined at the same time to grant a general pardon, or as the Lord Deputy despairingly put it, to ‘leave the Irish to tumble to their own sensual government.’ It was the easiest way perhaps for a Lord Deputy; but he had a conscience, and could not see it with equanimity. A considerable number were excepted by name, but even on these terms a proclamation of amnesty was a confession of failure. The news leaked out prematurely through the treachery of a servant, and the rebels bragged loudly of the revenge they would have when their past offences had been condoned.

Grey’s despair.

The change of policy did not prevent Maltby from executing Clanricarde’s son William, and he reported to Walsingham the opinion of an ancient Irish counsellor that her Majesty was only casting pearls before swine. Desmond still had 1,600 able men with him, and a brilliant night attack by Zouch on his camp, though it was made much of, had no particular result. As to Leinster, Grey reported it generally rebellious; but the bogs and woods were far smaller than in Munster, and the remains of castles showed that Wexford and Carlow at least, with the flatter portions of Wicklow, had formerly been well bridled. The object of the rebels was to have no stronghold, for the open country would be always at their mercy. As the Lord Deputy’s train passed through Wicklow the O’Byrnes showed themselves on the hills and even cut off some plate-waggons; but he made his way to Wexford, where he hanged some malefactors, and garrisoned Arklow, Castle Kevin, and other places. Grey felt he had done nothing worth speaking of, and begged earnestly for a recall, since he had been overruled in opposing the amnesty as ‘not standing with the reason which he had conceived for her Majesty’s service.’ Sheer severity, was in fact, all he had to recommend, for ‘fear, and not dandling, must bring them to the bias of obedience… it is a pity that the resolutions in England should be so uncertain…. If taking of cows, killing of their kerne and churls, had been thought worth the advertising, I could have had every day to trouble your Highness…. He that to-day seems a dutiful subject, let him for any of those, or for other less crimes be to-morrow called upon to come and answer, straightway a protection is demanded and in the mean he will be upon his keeping, which in plain English is none other than a traitor that will forcibly defend his cause and not answer to justice…. Beggars fall to pride, rail at your Majesty, and rely only upon the Pope, and that changes shall in the end free them.[78]

Death of Sanders.

Just before Ormonde’s dismissal became known, his enemy, Sir Warham St. Leger, told Burghley that he lost twenty Englishmen killed for every one of the rebels. But famine and disease succeeded where the sword failed, and in the same letter St. Leger was able to announce that Dr. Sanders had died of dysentery. For two months the secret had been kept, his partisans giving out that he had gone to Spain for help; but at last one of the women who had clothed him in his winding-sheet brought the news to Sir Thomas of Desmond. Since the fall of Fort Del Oro, he had scarcely been heard of, and had spent his time miserably in the woods on the border of Cork and Limerick. Some English accounts say that he was out of his mind, but of this there does not seem to be any proof. All agree that he died in the wood of Clonlish, and it seems that he was buried in a neighbouring church. His companion at the last was Cornelius Ryan, the papal bishop of Killaloe, and according to O’Sullivan—who had evidently himself good means of knowing the truth—the following scene took place:—

‘In the beginning of the night, Dr. Sanders, whose naturally strong frame was worn out by dysentery, thus addressed the Bishop of Killaloe,—”Anoint me, illustrious lord, with extreme unction, for my Creator calls me, and I shall die to-night.” “You are strong,” answered the bishop, “and your case is not bad, and I think there will be no dying or anointing just now.” Nevertheless, he grew worse, and was anointed at midnight, and at cockcrow resigned his spirit to the Lord, and the following night he was secretly buried by priests, and borne to the grave by four Irish knights, of which my father, Dermot, was one. Others were forbidden to attend, lest the English should find the body, and make their usual cruel spectacle of the dead.’

What he did for Ireland.

Sanders had been three years in Ireland. He had brought upon the country only bloodshed, famine, and confiscation, and yet among the starving people, none could be found to earn a reward by betraying him.[79]


[51] Lord Grey’s instructions, July 15, 1580, are printed in Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica.

[52] Gerard, C., to Burghley, July 29 and August 3, 1580, to Walsingham, August 3 (with enclosures); to Wallop, August 7; Lord Deputy Grey and Council to the Privy Council, August 14; Zouch and Stanley to Walsingham, July 29; Pelham to Gerard, July 30, in Carew.

[53] Four Masters: Stanley to Walsingham, August 31, 1580.

[54] George Carew to Walsingham, November 20, 1580. For the defeat in Glenmalure, see Stanley, Maltby, and Gerard to Walsingham, August 31 Grey to Walsingham, August 31; to Burghley, September 12; Wallop to Walsingham, September 9; Hooker; Four Masters, 1580; Camden, who exaggerates the loss; O’Sullivan, ii. iv. 14, who ridiculously estimates the slain at 800.

[55] Maltby to Leicester and Walsingham, August 17; the former in Carew; Gerard to Walsingham, August 14.

[56] Hugh Magennis to Grey, August 29, 1580; Dungannon and Sir Hugh O’Reilly to Grey, September 3; Gormanston to Grey, September 4; Sir N. Bagenal to Grey, September 2; Mr. John Barnes to Grey (from Disert), September 4; Nathaniel Smith to Maltby, September 3; Maltby to Walsingham, September 7 and 8.

[57] Pelham to the Privy Council, July 14, 1580; to the Irish Council, July 22; to Winter, August 16, all in Carew. Instructions to Sir William Winter, March 17; and considerations which moved him, September 23; Sir R. Bingham to Walsingham, September 20; Baron of Lixnaw to the Munster Commissioners, September 15.

[58] The correspondence about Sidee is between March 19 and 21, 1580; Winter to the Privy Council, April 27; Notes for the Privy Council, May 14.

[59] Examination of William Carusse, August 12, 1580; Viscount Gormanston to Gerard, July 28.

[60] Grey to the Queen, October 5, 1580; Bingham to Walsingham, September 20 and October 18; and to Leicester same date in Carew; James Golde and Thomas Arthur to Wallop and Waterhouse, September 30; Commons of Lixnaw to same, September 27; Thomas Clinton to the Attorney of Munster, September 26.

[61] Ormonde to R. Shee, October 8, 1580, to an unnamed correspondent, Nov. (No. 71), to the Conde ‘the Lemes’ (? De Lerma) October 31.

[62] Captain R. Bingham to Walsingham, October 13, 18, and 23, 1580; to Leicester, October 18, in Carew.

[63] Hooker; Grey to the Queen, November 12, 1580; Bingham to Walsingham, November 3.

[64] Strype’s Life of Cheke, ch. vi. Bingham to Leicester, November 11, 1580, in Wright’s Elizabeth; to Walsingham, November 12; Grey to the Queen and to Walsingham, November 12; Anonymous to Walsingham, November (No. 27). Bingham says the confusion and slaughter were increased by the sailors who swarmed in over the sea-face of the fort, but Grey makes no excuse. See also G. Fenton to Walsingham, November 14, Hooker, Camden, and Spenser’s State of Ireland. The poet expressly says that he was present. All the above agree that Grey made no promise, and the Four Masters do not materially contradict the English writers, for their ‘promise of protection’ may only refer to the negotiations. O’Daly and O’Sullivan, whose accounts seem to have been drawn from the same source, and very probably from Sanders, accuse Grey of bad faith; but they also say the siege lasted forty days, and that the English had recourse to fraud because force had failed. Now it is certain that only one clear day elapsed between the turning of the first sod and the surrender of the fort. Graia fides became a by-word in Catholic Europe, but that would be a matter of course, and it is a pity that so great a scholar as O’Donovan should give implicit faith to rumour, while scouting as ‘mere fiction’ the solemn statement of such an eye witness as Edmund Spenser.

[65] The Queen to Grey, December 12, 1580; Anonymous to Walsingham, November (No. 27); Dowling ad ann. 1583; Maltby to Leicester, May 28, 1582. The chronology of the Smerwick affair is as follows: Friday, November 4, fleet enters Ventry harbour; 5th, moves to Smerwick; 6th, reconnoitring; 7th, Grey shifts camp from Dingle and opens trenches; 8th, battery opens; 9th, battery continued and surrender agreed upon at night; 10th, the foreign officers come out, and their men are massacred.

[66] The above details are in the letter of November 11 and 12, already cited; the examination of Plunkett in a letter of the latter date from Grey to Walsingham.

[67] Sir N. White to Burghley, July 22, 1580. I have heard that Mr. Hennessy interprets ‘Ard canny’ as ‘hill of Arbutus,’ and without reference to any saint. There is a contemporary map of Fort del oro in the Record Office, which seems correct, and it is printed on a reduced scale in the Kerry Magazine. I inspected the place and took measurements in June 1883. Dun-an oir is the ‘earthwork of gold.’ Poor Frobisher’s gold was pyrites, as the London goldsmiths knew, but an Italian alchemist was believed. The ‘carcase’ mentioned by White was that of the ship, not of the owner.

[68] Lady Honora Burke to Maltby, October 29, 1580; Maltby to Walsingham, October 25, October 27, and November 17; Gerard to Burghley, November 27; Four Masters.

[69] Ormonde to Walsingham and to Burghley, September 28, 1580; J. Thickpenny to Ormonde, September 27; Stanley to Walsingham, October 2; order by the Lord Deputy and Council, October 3; Wallop to Walsingham, November 12.

[70] Wallop to Walsingham, October 9 and 25, and November 27; to Burghley, November 11, 1580; Waterhouse to Walsingham, October 13; Lord Chancellor and Council to the Privy Council, November 3; Gerard to Burghley, October 18; Captain R. Pypho to Walsingham, November 9; Kildare to Walsingham, December 10. Writing to Wallop, on November 17, Maltby says of Kildare, ‘sicut erat in principio et tel il sera toute sa vie.’ The letter is a queer mixture of Latin, French, and cypher.

[71] Wallop and Waterhouse to Walsingham, December 23, 1580.

[72] Grey to the Queen, December 22, 1580; Lord Deputy and Council to the Queen, December 23; Wallop to Walsingham, December 30; White, M.R., to Burghley, February 2, 1581.

[73] James Sherlock, Mayor of Waterford to Walsingham, November 18, 1580, with the enclosures; Wallop to Walsingham, November 30; Bingham to Walsingham, December 12 and January 9; John Myagh to Walsingham, January 26, 1581; White, M.R., to Burghley, February 2.

[74] Notes of Ormonde’s entertainments December, 1580 (No. 45); Wallop to Walsingham, January 14, 1581; to Burghley, May 13; L. Bryskett to Walsingham, April 21; St. Leger to Burghley, June 3. See also ‘Observations on the Earl of Ormonde’s government,’ drawn up probably by Maltby and St. Leger, and calendared in Carew at March 1582. For Ormonde’s quarrel with Upper Ossory see his letter to Walsingham, July 21, 1580; and to Grey, August 28; and Waterhouse to Walsingham, August 13. King Edward’s old playfellow was six months in prison, and his lands at the mercy of the Butlers. He earnestly desired a trial, adding that his enemy’s hands were perhaps less clean than his; see his letter to Leicester of June 7, 1581, in Carew.

[75] Captain W. Rawley to Burghley, Feb. 23, 1581; Hooker in Holinshed.

[76] Raleigh to Walsingham, February 25, 1581; to Grey, May 1.

[77] Grey to Leicester, March 20, 1581; to Walsingham, May 12, June 9; to the Privy Council, June 10; Wallop and Waterhouse to Walsingham, June 10; Ormonde to Burghley, July 15.

[78] Grey to the Queen, April 26, 1581; to Walsingham, May 14; to the Privy Council, June 10 and July 10; Zouch to Walsingham, June 15; Maltby to Walsingham, June 30; Lord Grey’s services, September, 1582.

[79] St. Leger to Burghley, June 3, 1581; where it appears that Sanders died about the beginning of April; O’Sullivan, lib. iv. cap. 16; Four Masters, 1581; Camden; Hooker; Holing, S.J., in Spicilegium Ossoriense, i. 94.


Exceptions from the amnesty.

Desmond, his brother John, and Baltinglas were excepted by the Queen from the general pardon. Grey himself made several further exceptions, not, as he explained, that he wished to remove the hope of mercy, but only that he did not think them cases for pardon without further inquiry. Lady Desmond was excepted, as having encouraged the rebels to persevere, and as having remained with them rather than live under protection. David Barry, to whom Lord Barrymore had conveyed his lands, and Baltinglas’s brothers, Edmund and Walter, who were heirs-presumptive to his entailed property, were excepted, not only as important rebels, but lest the Queen should lose the escheats. Feagh MacHugh O’Byrne, ‘the minister of all wickedness in Leinster,’ refused a pardon unless a like were granted to Desmond and his brother, and unless ‘religion might be at liberty.’ Several other rebels or plotters were excepted, among whom it is only necessary to mention William Nugent, Lord Delvin’s brother, who had become the leader of a separate conspiracy. Perhaps Grey’s additions to the list of those whom Elizabeth thought unfit for pardon may have wrecked the whole scheme. July 17 was fixed as the last day for the rebels to come in, and up to that date very few penitents appeared.[80]

Conspirators welcome the amnesty.

While notorious offenders abstained from taking advantage of the Queen’s clemency, it was noticed that many inhabitants of the Pale, against whom nothing was known, were eager to accept the pardon. As early as 1575 William Nugent had fallen under the suspicion of the Government, and was supposed to have an understanding with Baltinglas from the first. He eluded capture during the winter of 1580, and in March 1581 it was announced that he had conspired with some 300 of the O’Connors and MacCoghlans to raise an insurrection. A few weeks later he fled to Tirlogh Luineach O’Neill, who flatly refused to surrender him to the Lord Deputy, when he appeared in person at the Blackwater. In the autumn Nugent was back in the Pale, and suing for mercy; but he got no encouragement, and added to the weight of his offence by helping the mountain rebels to harry some of the Archbishop of Dublin’s property. When Baltinglas fled a month or two later, he made his way back to Ulster, and thence to Scotland and the Continent. A very large number of his friends and neighbours were more or less implicated, and it is easy to see why so many gentlemen of the Pale were anxious to cover themselves by accepting a pardon.[81]

Maltby in Connaught.

Clanricarde was in confinement at the time of the Smerwick affair, and it is doubtful how far he had the power to influence his sons. He persuaded the younger, William, to ask for protection, but could not make him observe the implied conditions. Maltby granted it only with a view of weakening the two elder brothers. In the meantime, and no doubt having an understanding with the Earl’s sons, 600 well-armed Scots invaded the province. They were to be paid at the rate of 4,200l. a quarter, and it was supposed that their presence would turn the scale in favour of Richard-in-Iron, Grace O’Malley’s husband, who claimed to be Lower MacWilliam by popular election only, and against Richard MacOliver, who had been made tanist by the Queen. John Burke took advantage of the occasion to plan an attack on the O’Kellies, and the Scots encamped near Shrule, where they engaged to meet the Burkes on the 1st of March. Three days before the appointed time, Maltby made his appearance. Richard-in-Iron, who had advanced within ten miles of Shrule, at once drew back into Mayo, and the Clanricarde Burkes, hearing of the President’s movements, never stirred at all. The Scots were surprised, and Maltby, after killing a few, drove them before him to the Moy. They crossed the river, and he followed, but they made good their retreat into Ulster. The President then recrossed, and at Strade Abbey the two competitors for the chiefry of Mayo met him. They were both submissive enough to Maltby, but not at all polite to each other. Richard MacOliver said Richard-in-Iron was a traitor, that all those who elected him were traitors, and that he himself would refuse to be MacWilliam, except by the Queen’s appointment. The other told him he lied, and the President had to remind them that this was very improper language to use in the presence of the Queen’s representative. It was agreed that Richard-in-Iron should be MacWilliam, and that MacOliver should be sheriff of Mayo, receiving 40l. a year out of the chief-rent of his barony of Tyrawley.[82]

Clanricarde’s son hanged.

About three months later William Burke, though he was under protection, took to plundering people on the highway, and had even the audacity to offer their goods for sale at Galway. He behaved so outrageously that the townsmen laid hands on him. Nine of his men were executed by martial law, and Maltby held special sessions for the trial of the chief offender. The Grand Jury found a bill for treason, and the prisoner was then tried and convicted. The verdict was considered proof of Burke having violated his protection. The Irish annalists insinuate a breach of faith; but even a free pardon would not save a subject from the consequence of acts done after its date, and Maltby seems to have been legally justified. He refused 1,000l. for the prisoner’s life, and a like sum for that of Tirlogh O’Brien, a noted rebel who was executed two days before.[83]

John of Desmond is slain.

More than a year had passed since the capture of Smerwick, an amnesty had been proclaimed, and yet the end of the rebellion seemed no nearer. On January 2 a spy came to Zouch at Cork to tell him that David Barry was at Castle Lyons and might easily be taken. The Governor waited till nine o’clock at night, and then set out with a hundred men, of whom one-half were mounted. Arriving at the castle at daybreak, he found that Barry had not arrived; but in the immediate neighbourhood he lighted accidentally upon John of Desmond with three companions. He had been sent by his brother the Earl, who himself lay north of the Blackwater, to compose a quarrel between Barry and the seneschal of Imokilly. So little danger was dreamed of that Sir John and his friends rode on ponies and without defensive armour. Patrick Condon, a noted leader, and another managed to escape, but Sir John was run through with a spear and also shot in the throat by one Fleming, who had formerly been his servant. James Fitzjohn of Strancally, a cousin of Desmond, was taken prisoner. Sir John only survived a few minutes, but he was able to say that had he lived longer he would have done more mischief, and that Henry Davells was never his friend. His body was sent to Cork and hung in chains over one of the gates for three or four years, when a great storm blew it into the river. The head was sent to Dublin as a ‘New Year’s gift’ for Grey, and stuck upon a pole on the castle wall. James Fitzjohn was executed, having first confessed that the Earl was in a sad plight, and lived only by eating at night the cows that he had killed in the day. A turquoise set in gold was found upon Sir John and was sent to the Queen; his agnus dei, with its glass and gold frame, was transmitted to the Earl of Bedford. Having been designated as his successor by James Fitzmaurice, who had the Pope’s authority for so doing, John of Desmond was acknowledged as the Catholic leader, and his death was of considerable importance. He was a man of ability, and the only person fit to manage the turbulent chiefs who had never served, and who could therefore never command.[84]

Ill-timed parsimony.

The rebellion had received a great blow, and if it had been followed up promptly all would soon have been over. But the Queen immediately ordered the discharge of 700 men, making the second reduction of the forces within three months. Zouch had now only 400 men at his disposal, and disasters of course followed. In March James Fenton, the secretary’s brother, who had succeeded Captain Apsley in West Cork, crossed over from Berehaven with the intention of provisioning Bantry Abbey, where he expected to find some of his men. David Barry, with a strong party, had already cut the detachment to pieces, and lay hidden in the building till the first boat landed. The unsuspecting soldiers were all killed. Fenton, who followed in another boat, turned back when he discovered what had happened. The Irish gave chase, but night favoured the fugitive, who landed in the darkness, and after three days’ ‘cold entertainment on the rocks,’ scrambled back to his castle, badly bruised and very hungry, but unwounded.[85]

Indecisive skirmishes.

Zouch presses Desmond hard.

In April the Baron of Lixnaw joined the rebels, and the soldiers in Kerry narrowly escaped annihilation. Captain Acham and a score of men were killed and the rest closely shut up in Ardfert Abbey, where they daily expected to be overwhelmed. The presence of a Spanish vessel may have determined the action of the Fitzmaurices. There had been a similar visitor before the descent at Smerwick, and it was thought that another and stronger force was about to fortify one of the islands off Baltimore or Castlehaven. Zouch had, however, the satisfaction of taking his revenge on David Barry. Led by John FitzEdmond of Cloyne, a noted loyalist, he surprised Barry in a wood near the Blackwater, and killed nearly 100 of his men. The defeated chief sued for protection, and Zouch granted it until his return from Kerry, whither he immediately hurried, and succeeded in relieving the beleaguered men at Ardfert. He then went to the glen of Aherlow, where Desmond himself lay. The rebels were so hard pressed that Lady Desmond took to the mountains, leaving her baggage and female attendants to be captured. Zouch’s foot could not come up in time, and nothing decisive was done. Zouch took it on himself to offer the Earl life and liberty, but he demanded the restoration of all his lands and possessions. Lady Desmond, however, went to Dublin and surrendered to Grey.[86]

Lady Desmond surrenders.

Savage warfare.

Desmond’s heir.

Lady Desmond’s desertion of her husband was justly considered as a sign that he was becoming weaker, but the immediate effect was to make him freer in his movements. He plundered and devastated the whole of Tipperary, and descended the valley of the Suir almost to Waterford. At Knockgraffon, near Cahir, he defeated Ormonde’s three brothers in a fair fight, though the Butlers had greatly the superior force. In Kerry he was not opposed at all. The seneschal of Imokilly had the eastern part of Cork and the western part of Waterford at his mercy, and the estates of Lord Roche were so completely depopulated that settlers had afterwards to be brought from a distance. The style of warfare may be guessed from the Irish annalists, who remark that when Grace MacBrien, the wife of Theobald Roche, ‘saw her husband mangled, and mutilated, and disfigured, she shrieked extremely and dreadfully, so that she died that night alongside the body of her husband, and both were buried together.’ There were but fourteen men fit to bear arms left alive in the whole district round Fermoy. Ormonde’s own house at Carrick was plundered by the seneschal. On the whole it was thought that the time had not come to show mercy to important rebels, and the Queen ordered that Lady Desmond should be sent back to her husband, unless she could induce him to surrender unconditionally. Her only son, as she wrote to Burghley, ‘remained in the castle of Dublin, without any kind of learning or bringing up, or any to attend on him,’ and she begged that he might be sent to England as ‘the lesser evil of the two.'[87]

Grey is recalled.

However much the Queen may have been to blame, it was clear that Grey had not been a successful governor, and Burghley had formed a bad opinion of his capacity. He had begun with the disaster at Glenmalure, and his bloody success at Smerwick had not added much to his reputation. Sheer severity was his great resource, and he had made enemies on all sides. Yet Sidney had been severe enough, and even the children in the streets clamoured for his return. ‘Where,’ said Secretary Fenton, ‘there is so great an antipathy and dissimilitude of humour and manners between a people and their governor, then the government cannot be carried in just rule and frame no more than a wound can be healed which is plied with medicine contrary to its proper cure.’ The Queen had accused her most successful lieutenant of extravagance, but she found his successor more costly still, and she resolved to recall him. There was no great difficulty about this, for he had very often begged to be relieved, but it was feared that a bad impression would be made in Ireland. Elizabeth therefore determined to send for him under the guise of a conference. This resolution was quickly acted upon, and Grey surrendered the sword to Wallop and Loftus.[88]

Causes of Grey’s failure.

The famine in Munster.

The governor of a dependency will always be in some measure judged by the state in which he leaves the country that he has been called to rule, and, tried by this standard, not much can be said for Grey. The friend and hero of Spenser was called, as the poet himself records, ‘a bloody man, who regarded not the life of her Majesty’s subjects no more than dogs, but had wasted and consumed all, so as now she had nothing almost left, but to reign in their ashes.’ Sir Warham St. Leger, who certainly cannot be suspected of any great sympathy with the Irish people, and who was not hostile to Grey, has left a terrible picture of the state of Munster. The country was ruined almost past recovery by the ruthless exaction of cess, and by the extortions of the soldiers. 30,000 at least had perished by famine within six months, and disease also was doing its work. Cork was then a small town, consisting of one street scarce a furlong in length, yet there were sometimes seventy deaths in a day and very seldom as few as twenty. John FitzEdmond of Cloyne, one of the few really loyal men in the province, had lost nineteen-twentieths of his people, and the cattle, which could never graze in safety, were as lean as their masters. The only inhabitants in tolerable case were the actual rebels, who took freely all men’s goods and escaped disease ‘by enjoying continually the wholesome air of the fields.’ And this was Grey’s settled policy. Five counties were to be laid waste, in order that the traitors might be starved into submission. ‘I have,’ St. Leger said, ‘often told the Governor that this is far wide from the true course of government,’ for the towns would waste away, the revenues dwindle, and the whole country be exhausted by such a frightful drain. Nevertheless, the destruction was nearly as complete as it could be. Nine-tenths of the men had succumbed to the sword, the halter, or the pestilence. The women escaped better, but, taking one thing with another, a competent observer thought there were not enough people left alive to cultivate one hundredth part of the land. But the most harrowing account of all is the oft-quoted passage of Spenser, though the poet lays the blame on the people and not on their ruler. At the beginning of the war, he says, Munster was full of corn and cattle. Eighteen months had destroyed all. Lean as were the starving people, their legs would not bear them, and they crawled out of caves and glens to feed on carrion, or, like ghouls, to scrape the dead from their graves, ‘and if they found a plot of watercresses or shamrocks, there they flocked as to a feast for a time, yet not able long to continue therewithal, so that in short space there were none almost left, and a most populous and plentiful country suddenly left void of man or beast; yet sure in all that was there perished not many by the sword, but all by the extremity of famine which they themselves had wrought.'[89]

Rising of William Nugent.

A chief justice executed.

If Grey was unsuccessful in dealing with Munster, he had at least driven Baltinglas to Spain and crushed the abortive rising of William Nugent. Seven persons were executed on account of one, and six on account of the other movement. Of those who suffered, the most remarkable was Nicholas Nugent, late Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, who was perhaps actuated by discontent at being removed from his place. He was uncle to Delvin and his rebellious brother, and the mode of his conviction must have added much to the hatred which was generally felt for Grey. Privy Councillors were joined in commission with the ordinary judges, ‘and with them,’ said the Lord Deputy, ‘I went in person, and sat upon the bench, to see justice more equally ministered.’ The evidence against Nugent and against Edward Cusack, who was tried at the same time, was almost wholly that of an informer, John Cusack, who had been one of the most active conspirators. Grey blames the prisoners for audaciously casting doubts on the evidence of ‘this double-dyed traitor. A verdict was, however, secured, some of the jurors knowing in their private consciences that the prisoners were far from that innocency that they pretended.’ Nugent appears to have died protesting his innocence, though he made private admissions to some officials which perhaps went to show that he was technically guilty of treason. But these admissions were not made until after his conviction, nor in open court at all. Baron Cusack, and perhaps another judge, was against the verdict. It is to be feared that the extreme severity shown was rather because Nugent was a troublesome person than for anything actually rebellious that he had done. Formerly, when a Baron of the Exchequer, he had opposed the cess, and had been removed from the bench by Sidney. Gerard restored him to a higher place, and from this he was driven by Grey.[90]

Sufferings of Nugent and his wife.

William Nugent himself underwent the utmost misery. He lay in the fields without covering at night, and his friends were afraid to attract attention by bringing him as much canvas as would make a shelter-tent. His wife—the Janet Marward, whose abduction has been already related—was with her mother, Mrs. Nicholas Nugent, but his two boys were in his own keeping. Nicholas Nugent might have made his peace with the Government had he been able to get hold of the eldest; but William said the brother, wife, and child were over many hostages. Give him back his wife, and the children should be sent in exchange. The poor mother, who was half-crazed with her troubles, supported her stepfather’s request that the child should be given up, in hopes, probably, that she might thus see him. All the while John Cusack was the active agent who swore in confederates for the ‘holy cause,’ and took the lead generally. William ultimately escaped to Scotland, and thence to Italy, and his wife, after some delay, was allowed to receive the profits of her own property. Ormonde warmly supported her cause, and reminded Burghley that she had been married by force. The only charge against her was that she had sent some shirts to her destitute husband, but she was imprisoned for a whole year. ‘If any fault were,’ it was urged on the Lord Treasurer, ‘the dutiful love of a wife to a husband in that extremity may, I trust, procure some remorse towards her in your Lordship’s honourable opinion.’ The desire of the informers to get her land probably caused the harsh treatment. She was at one time on the point of starvation, and yet was accused of offering a bribe for her own safety, and fined 500l. She had, she pleaded, nothing to give, and though she had friends, ‘who perhaps would have given all they had in the world rather than see her life lost,’ yet they had given nothing with her knowledge.[91]

Raleigh sides with Ormonde.

Walter Raleigh was not on good terms with Grey. ‘I like not,’ said the latter, ‘his carriage or company, and he has nothing to expect from me.’ The brilliant adventurer, who had now got Burghley’s ear, may have been influenced by this, but, whatever the reason, he seems to have turned to Ormonde, whom he had formerly depreciated. His plan for ending the Desmond rebellion was to put the Earl’s pardon and restoration altogether out of the question, and to receive to mercy and service all those chiefs who were actuated more by fear of him than by disaffection to the Government, such as Lord Fitzmaurice, MacDonough of Duhallow, Patrick Condon, and the White Knight. 700 men in garrison would do the rest. The Earl of Ormonde was to be chiefly relied on for bringing back the still rebellious chiefs to their allegiance. Raleigh’s reasons may be given in his own words: ‘There are many adhering to Desmond which heretofore was good subjects and served against the Earl, and some of them being evil used by the English soldiers and having an opinion that in the end her Majesty will both pardon and restore the Earl as heretofore he hath been, they do rather follow him for fear to be hereafter plagued by him, if now they should not follow him. And therefore if many of these were privately dealt with to return to the service of her Majesty, and to be permitted to possess their own countries quietly, and were well persuaded that the Earl should never be restored, they would be brought to serve her Majesty, &c.’

Who is restored.

The soldiers, he added, if they were to be really efficient, should be able to live on their pay, for the certain evils of free quarters were worse than the risks of rebellion. This reasoning prevailed, and Ormonde was appointed governor of Munster, with power to act as Raleigh had advised.[92]

Disorders of an ill-paid soldiery.

Ireland could not be held without an army, and that army was irregularly paid. The consequence was that the Queen’s peaceable subjects found their defenders more burdensome than their enemies. ‘I think in conscience,’ said Bishop Lyons ‘(speaking it with grief of heart), amongst the heathen there is no such wicked soldiers.’ In the Pale food and forage were taken without payment, ‘every soldier, having his boy or woman, would when he came in the afternoon have a meal’s meat, which they term a “Kusshyinge,” and then after that his supper, and if the poor people when they came offered them such as they had, as bread, milk, butter, cheese, or eggs, they would have none of it, but would have flesh, and when they found poultry or sheep they would kill them, and every soldier would have a quarter of that mutton or poultry at his pleasure, with the reversion of which he would break his fast in the morning and have sixpence for his dinner, for all which they would pay nothing, nor captain nor officer give their bill, whereby the ordinary allowance might be answered of the country.’ Men, and even women, were beaten to death, and a great part of Kildare lay waste. A proper composition, in lieu of cess, and increased pay were the only remedies which the Irish Government could suggest. In Munster there was scarcely any attempt made to levy a regular cess, but the soldiers took whatever they could find. If the mayor or citizens of Cork interceded for their miserable neighbours, they received such answers as, ‘Ye are but beggars, rascals, and traitors, and I am a soldier and a gentleman.’ Under these circumstances it is not wonderful that Desmond’s band was 1,000 strong, that the rebels reaped the corn everywhere, and that Captain Smith and his company, who were among the worst offenders, were cut to pieces at Ardfert. The cattle were swept away at noon from under the walls of Cashel. The seneschal of Imokilly plundered freely in the immediate neighbourhood of Cork, and the mayor pursued them in vain—luckily, in St. Leger’s opinion, for the citizen soldiers were fit only to defend walls, and scarcely to do that against any serious attack.[93]

Desmond’s cruelty.

Desmond was strong for the moment, but his cruel and impolitic conduct shows that he was a desperate man. Four gentlemen of the Geraldines, who had refused to follow him were captured and sentenced by his council of war to be hanged. But the Earl said that every Geraldine who failed him should be cut in pieces, and called on as many as loved him to give the prisoner a stroke of the sword. They were accordingly ‘cut in gobbets,’ in Desmond’s presence. He attacked the O’Keefes, a loyal clan upon the upper Blackwater, killed the chief’s son and other prisoners, and took ‘the Vicar of Oskallie, and put out upon him a jury of twelve of the Earl’s men, which jury passed upon him and condemned him to death, seeing he was a true subject to her Majesty, and held office under her highness always.’ Of the whole party, O’Keefe alone was spared, and he was badly wounded.[94]

Death of Clanricarde, whose sons come to terms.

From Maltby in Connaught came the only news which could possibly be called good. Old Clanricarde was at last liberated about the end of June, and a few weeks later he died at Galway of jaundice, aggravated by vexation at the sight of his ruined castle and wasted country. With his last breath he cursed his sons should they prove disobedient subjects, and thanked the Queen for her clemency. The young men soon came in and professed their willingness to have disputes settled according to law, but Secretary Fenton observed that it would be easy to make a civil faction between them, and cut off one without disturbing the province. There was little difficulty in proving that Ulick, the elder brother, was Earl, and the more difficult matter of the lands was settled quietly, and with at least some show of amity. Each competitor gave a bond in 10,000l. to abide by the award, which was based upon the principle of equal division, first choice being in some cases given to the Earl. The whole barony of Leitrim was given to John absolutely, and the title was afterwards conferred upon him. The castles of Portumna and Loughrea were awarded to Ulick; the brothers agreed to surrender Ballinasloe to Maltby. The right of some other Burkes were defined, and in general terms it may be said that the baronies of Dunkellin, Loughrea, and Longford remained with the Earl, though some parcels were excepted. The award was accepted, but the hatred of the brothers was of too long standing to be thus appeased, and it was not long before it broke out again.[95]

General famine.

Famine and pestilence continued to rage through the summer, autumn, and winter of 1582. All Waterford, Limerick, and Cork, and a great part of Tipperary, were spoiled. 200 or 300 kine for the public service were as much as could be had for love or money. ‘The wolf and the best rebel lodged in one inn, with one diet and one kind of bedding.’ Archbishop Loftus being, as Spenser says, more mildly disposed, as ‘was meet for his profession,’ than his colleague Wallop, was so horrified that he advised Burghley to pardon Desmond. There might, he said, be some question of the Queen’s honour if the war of Ireland was like other wars, between one prince and another, but this was against a subject, bare, rude, and savage. The only honour to be had was by healing the sores of the poor subjects. For the famine was not confined to Munster, but ran its course even in Dublin under the eyes of the Lords Justices.

A horse of Secretary Fenton’s was accidentally burned, and was eaten by the people before it was half-roasted. Another of Wallop’s died, and was devoured, entrails and all, apparently without any preparation. It became, indeed, a regular thing ‘to eat the carcasses of dead horses, and to buy them at the soldiers’ hands.’ The Lords Justices admitted that this was a lamentable thing to happen under a Christian prince. The Irish, however, they explained, were less averse to carrion than other people; still they could not but be grieved that the soldiers should extort money for any such wares. The fact is that all were starving alike.[96]

St. Leger seeks to treat with Desmond, and foretells Ormonde’s failure.

Sir Warham St. Leger, who hated Ormonde and all his works, attributed the evil state of Munster to the ‘cockling and dandling of hollow-hearted wretches,’ in pursuance of the Earl’s policy. In the meantime he intrigued for a capitulation on Desmond’s part. He had taken the Seneschal’s natural son—a boy of seven—’as like him as if he had spit him out of his mouth,’ and proposed to hang him in case the father should break out again. In the meantime he endeavoured to treat with Desmond through his means, but the rebel Earl was buoyed up constantly with the hopes of aid from abroad. The Countess persuaded him never to write anything, for fear of compromising himself with foreign princes. St. Leger was authorised to offer him his life, restraint without any imprisonment in some part of England or Ireland, and hope of further mercy for himself and child; but a full restoration was not to be thought of. There seems to have been little sincerity in the negotiation, though doubtless both the Queen and Burghley would have been glad to avoid further expense; and Ormonde, on his arrival, found the state of affairs unaltered. St. Leger foretold his failure. The protectees would fail him, and he would have enough to do to keep his own. ‘He is,’ he said, ‘a person most odious of all men to Desmond’s friends…. It is death to all the lords and chieftains of both factions to have English government come among them, for they know that if English government be established here, their Irish exactions is laid aground; the which to forego they had as leave die, such is their devilish consciences.’ How true was the prophecy as to Ormonde’s failure will appear hereafter.[97]

Ormonde returns to Ireland with fresh powers 1583.

After many delays Ormonde was at last despatched, and 1,000 men were assigned to be under his orders in Munster. He had power to promise pardon to all rebels except Desmond himself. His pay and allowances were calculated on a liberal scale, amounting in all to over 4,000l. a year, and his rents due to the Crown were suspended until he should be able to make the lands profitable. Much was left to his discretion. Thus, rebels who surrendered might have a promise of their lands in consideration of a reasonable rent. 300 men were sent from Devon and Cornwall, Cheshire and Lancashire, Somersetshire and Gloucestershire, to fill up the gaps in the Irish garrisons. A large store of provisions was sent; but, on landing, Ormonde found Waterford, Tipperary, Cork, and Limerick in such a state that he thought it would not last for two months. His personal allowance was fixed at 3l. a day, but Wallop at once made a difficulty about paying this and many other claims. Ormonde, he said, was already too great for Ireland, and desired to be absolute in his government. Money no doubt was scarce in Dublin, but the Vice-Treasurer was advised to satisfy the Earl’s demands. The new governor lost no time in preparing for action, but he complained bitterly that companies were defective, that troops of horse were mounted on borrowed ponies, and that he was expected to perform impossibilities. He was ordered not to have more than four per cent. of Irishmen in any band; whereas Englishmen could not be had, and the Irish were the best shots.[98]

Gallant defence of Youghal.

While Munster waited for its new governor, the Seneschal of Imokilly made two attempts to get possession of Youghal. Just at the beginning of winter, some English soldiers, who were probably unpaid, agreed to open the gates; but the plot was discovered. More than two months later, two goldsmiths, who pretended to be soldiers, were admitted into the town. On the appointed night one kept the guard drinking while the other held a ladder for the assailants, whose plan was to occupy every stone house, and to cut it off from the gates. Fortunately, the soldiers had only a few days before broken down a stair leading from the walls, and thus only a few rebels were able to descend at a time. Two houses were, however, taken, and held for three days, in one of which the seneschal, in cold blood and with his own hands, knocked out the brains of six soldiers. Dermod Magrath, Papal Bishop of Cork and Cloyne, and ‘a very learned man in the papist doctrine,’ was present, and persuaded him not to kill any of the townsmen. The Sovereign, or Burgomaster, Francis Agnes (or Anes), behaved with great gallantry, and on the rumoured approach of troops from Waterford, the seneschal withdrew, having lost some sixty men, but carrying away a great quantity of corn, wine, beef, and hides, and leaving half the town in ashes. Cork was asked to send men to the relief of Youghal, but that city had none to spare, having itself been pressed by the rebels, who came up to the very walls and carried off the linen which was drying on the hedges. One of Ormonde’s first cares was to reinforce the garrison of Youghal.[99]

Ormonde shuts Desmond up in Kerry, and his adherents fall away.

In order to put down the Munster rebellion, the first thing was to localise it. The Queen herself had suggested that if Desmond could be kept out of Tipperary and Waterford, it would be comparatively easy to deal with him, and this was the plan adopted by Ormonde. At first he fixed his headquarters at Clonmel, whence the woods of Aherlow were easily accessible, and the Seneschal of Imokilly, who lay there, was harassed by the garrisons of Limerick and Kilmallock. In a month after Ormonde’s arrival, Desmond fled to the borders of Kerry, and his adherents began to desert him fast. Patrick Condon and over 300 others received protections, which they showed a disposition to pay for with the heads of their late comrades. The Baron of Lixnaw submitted about the end of March and was followed in a few days by Gerald MacThomas, called Toneboyreagh, who had long kept the county of Limerick disturbed, and now served well against his late associates. About the same time Lady Desmond came to Ormonde under a twenty days’ protection, but as she still demanded life, liberty, and property for her husband, no terms were granted to her. She then surrendered unconditionally, rather than return to such misery as she had lately endured. Early in June the Seneschal of Imokilly also made his submission, and Desmond was thus deprived of his last important supporter. The rebellion was now confined to Kerry and West Cork, and thither Ormonde repaired about the end of June.[100]

Desmond is hard pressed.

A few days before Ormonde’s arrival Desmond and his wife had a narrow escape from a night attack by the garrison of Kilmallock. The bed in which they had lain was found warm by the soldiers, into whose hands ‘the countess’s gentlewoman’ and others fell. A fog covered the flight of the two principal personages; but cattle, plate, jewels, and wardrobes were all captured. The presence of a lady and her attendants no doubt acted as a clog, and Desmond himself was becoming infirm. The old hurt received at Affane was likely to be aggravated by cold and fatigue, and a month later he had to be carried in his shirt by four men into a bog, and ferried over a river in a trough to escape from a sudden attack by Captain Thornton. After this he fled into Kerry, and it was reported that he would be glad if possible to escape by sea. He was too closely watched for this, but after the failure of his wife’s mission, he still refused to come to Ormonde. The following letter to St. Leger may well be given entire:—

But will not come to Ormonde.

‘Sir Warham, where I understand that the Earl of Ormonde giveth forth that I should submit myself before him as attorney to Her Majesty, you may be sure he doth report more thereof than I have sent him either by word or writing. But this I have offered in hope to prove the unreasonable wrong and injuries done unto me by her Highness’s officers in this realm from time to time, unguilty in me behalf as God knoweth. I am contented upon these conditions so as me country, castles, possessions, and lands, with me son, might be put and left in the hands and quiet possession of me counsel and followers, and also me religion and conscience not barred, with a pardon, protection, and passport for me own body to pass and repass. I would have gone before her Majesty to try all those causes just and true on me part, as I still do allege if I might be heard or may have indifference, and likewise hoping that I might have more justice, favour, and grace at her Majesty’s hands when I am before herself than here at the hands of such of her cruel officers as have me wrongfully proclaimed, and so thereby thinking that her Majesty and I may agree; if not that I may be put safe in the hands of me followers again, and I to deliver me son and me said possessions back to her Majesty’s officers. Dated at Feale the 28th of April, 1583.—GEROT DESMOND.’

Who insists on an unconditional surrender.

Ormonde would hear of nothing but an unconditional surrender, and continued to ply his double policy of war and clemency. Before the end of May he could announce that 134 had been slain, and 247 protected, since those last mentioned. The few remaining rebels were reduced to horseflesh or carrion, and Desmond himself knew not where to lay his head. He had still eighty men with him, but his pride was sufficiently humbled to make him address Ormonde directly. He could not, he said, accuse himself of disloyalty, but confessed that he had been misled, and pleaded that he had been tyrannously used. He begged for a conference, ‘humbly craving that you will please to appoint some place and time where I may attend upon your honour.’ Ormonde, who was justly proud at this falsification of St. Leger’s prediction, would not alter his terms, and a few days afterwards reported that the rebel’s eighty followers were reduced to twenty. A little later, when he was himself marching towards Kerry, he learned that the fugitive’s retinue consisted of only five persons—a priest, two horsemen, one kerne, and a boy. The people of the South-West had already experience enough of an invasion by Ormonde, and hastened on all sides to make terms for themselves. There were rumours that the Queen was getting tired of the war, and that he would be recalled. He was, he said, so confident of success that he was ready to begin the reduction of the forces under his command. Success was very near when he had been removed before, and he begged that the mistake might not be repeated. ‘Thus,’ he said, ‘am I handled, and do break the ice for others to pass with ease.'[101]

St. Leger thwarts Ormonde.

Sir Warham St. Leger did all that he possibly could to thwart Ormonde. Protections to rebels were, he said, bad things, which enabled traitors to extort from good subjects. Henry VIII., he reminded the Queen, had quieted the Pale for years by first making a somewhat dishonourable peace with the rebels, ‘and then paying them home.’ His advice was that Desmond should be received to life and liberty. ‘I dare,’ he added, ‘adventure the loss of one of my arms, which I would not willingly lose for all the lands and livings that ever he had, he will, within one quarter of a year after he is so received (if the matter be well and politically handled), be wrought to enter into new treasons, and thereby apprehended, and his head cut off according to his due deserts.’ Any other course would be too expensive. In other words, the wretched man was to be lulled into fancied security, watched by spies and tempted by false friends until he was induced to do something technically equivalent to treason. This abominable advice was not taken, happily for Elizabeth’s honour; but constant detraction was very near shaking Ormonde’s credit. Wallop and Fenton, who knew the Queen’s weak point and who hated the Earl for his independent conduct and position, lost no opportunity of showing what a costly luxury her Lord-General was. Walsingham urged Ormonde to make a quick end lest her Majesty should repent, and he afterwards repeated St. Leger’s sentiments and almost his very words about the impolicy of granting protections. Burghley, however, stood firm, and it was probably through his influence that some of St. Leger’s letters to the Queen were kept from her eye and sent back to Ormonde, who accused his adversary of offering to secure mercy for Desmond if he would only hold out until the Earl was no longer governor of Munster, and of giving out that his supersession was resolved on. Ormonde says he heard this from rebels who were likely to know the truth, that it was confirmed by a priest who had long been with Desmond, and that the latter had thus been ‘animated’ to hold out although in great straits. Ormonde thought Wallop disliked him nearly as much as St. Leger, and the Vice-Treasurer’s own letters bear out this opinion.[102]

Ormonde scours Kerry.

Fate, or Burghley, had, however, decreed that Ormonde should be allowed to finish the business in his own way, and the sad story may now be told to the end. There was no more fighting to be done, and at the end of June the Lord General passed through Tipperary and Limerick into Kerry. He visited Castle Island, Castlemaine, and Dingle, a principal object of the journey being to prevent Desmond escaping by sea. Castlemaine he found roofless and in ruins, and that famous hold was never again destined to resist the royal power. Clancare, the two O’Sullivans, and other gentlemen came to him with assurances of fidelity, and not the slightest resistance was offered anywhere. The protected people, he said, had generally served well, and were supported by their friends without charge to the Queen. Those who did no service had given hostages, and the work of reducing the garrisons might now be at once begun. The rebels were weary of the war and were ploughing the land; sword, law, and famine had done their work. In all his journey to the farthest point of Kerry, and back by Kinsale to Cork, Ormonde had to tell of no enemy but Sir Warham St. Leger, ‘who dwelleth in Cork Castle to small purpose for any good service he doth… drinking and writing (saving your honour) shameful lies.'[103]

Desmond is driven into a corner.

Early in August St. Leger reported that Desmond had crossed the Shannon and escaped to Scotland; but there was no truth in this. He was confined to that part of Kerry which lies north of Castlemaine and to the mountainous corner of Cork where the Blackwater rises. Ormonde was pretty confident that he would be captured, and none of the protected men relapsed except Goran MacSwiney, a captain of gallowglasses. Orders were sent to reduce the army in Munster from 1,000 to 600, and to prepare, if possible, for a further reduction to 200. On the very day that this order was penned Lord Roche was able to announce that he had very nearly taken Desmond, and that he had actually taken his chaplain, who was not so well horsed as the rest. ‘I would,’ Ormonde wrote to Burghley, ‘this chaplain and I were for one hour with you in your chamber, that you might know the secrets of his heart, which by fair means or foul he must open unto me.’ The poor man was coupled with a handlock to one of Ormonde’s servants, so that no one could speak to him privately. And thus the hunted chief was deprived of his last adviser.[104]

Death of Desmond.

On November 1, Goran MacSwiney was killed, and Ormonde proceeded to discharge 110 foot and 12 horse. Even yet a few desperate men adhered to Desmond, and he might have long eluded his pursuers but for an outrage done in his name. On November 9, he sent twenty men on a plundering expedition to the south side of Tralee Bay, and they drove off forty cows and some horses belonging to Maurice O’Moriarty, whose house they robbed, and whose wife and children they barbarously stripped naked. Next day, having first asked leave from Lieutenant Stanley at Dingle, the O’Moriarties, with near a score of kerne and some half-dozen soldiers of the garrison of Castlemaine, traced the lost cattle to the woods of Glanageenty, about five miles to the east of Tralee. Owen O’Moriarty climbed the hill by moonlight, and looking down into the deep glen saw a fire beneath him, which was found to proceed from a cabin. The hut was surrounded, and at daybreak the O’Moriarties entered. Taken unawares and but half-awake, Desmond’s companion only thought of escaping, and he was left behind and wounded in the arm with a sword-cut by a soldier named Daniel O’Kelly. ‘I am the Earl of Desmond,’ he cried, ‘save my life!’ ‘Thou hast killed thyself long ago,’ said Owen O’Moriarty, and now thou shalt be prisoner to the Queen’s Majesty and the Earl of Ormonde, Lord General of Munster.’ They carried him some distance, but a rescue was imminent, and Owen ordered O’Kelly to strike off the prisoner’s head, since it was impossible to fight thus encumbered. The soldier obeyed, and the head was carried to Castlemaine, and from thence to Ormonde at Kilkenny. The ghastly trophy was by him sent to the Queen. As the best evidence against those who ‘spoke malicious lies touching the service and state of Munster,’ it was exposed on London Bridge. The like exposure at Cork was designed for the headless trunk, but friendly hands hid it for eight weeks, and finally deposited it in a neighbouring chapel where only Fitzgeralds were buried, and which is still called ‘the church of the name.'[105]

Desmond a popular hero.

The spot where Desmond was decapitated is marked by a mound, and retains the name of Bothar-an-Iarla, or the Earl’s way. A gigantic elder formerly overshadowed the place, and in our own day it is covered by a young oak, a holly, and a bright tangle of ferns and foxgloves. A good carriage-road runs through the once inaccessible glen, and marks the difference between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. Desmond’s death closes the mediæval history of Munster, and it is no wonder that much legendary glory attaches to his name. He was a man of little talent or virtue, though he need not be too severely condemned for refusing to see that the days of feudal or tribal independence were over. But the past has an irresistible attraction for Irish sentiment, and the popular ear is more readily opened to fable than to historical truth. With nothing heroic about him, the unhappy Earl is still honoured as a hero; but even the fidelity of tradition to his memory is less than that of the natives to him while he yet lived. Let thus much be said in honour of the poor kerne, who stood so staunchly in a doubtful cause. The Earl’s ghost, mounted on a phantom steed with silver shoes, is said sometimes to rise at night from the waters of Lough Gur; and when the west wind comes up fitfully from the sea and makes slates and windows rattle, the Kerry people still call upon travellers to listen to the Desmond howl.[106]


[80] Grey to the Privy Council, July 10, 1581; Wallop to Walsingham, July 17.

[81] Wallop to Walsingham, March 8, 1581; L. Bryskett to Walsingham, April 21; Grey to the Queen, August 10; G. Fenton to Leicester, September 1; and to Burghley, September 21.

[82] Relation of Sir N. Maltby’s proceedings, March 23, 1581.

[83] Maltby to Walsingham, June 30, 1581; Four Masters, 1581. From Maltby’s letter of September 20, it appears that Burghley approved of William Burke’s execution.

[84] Zouch to Burghley, January 5, 1582; White Knight to Ormonde, same date; William Wendover to Fenton, January 6; Grey to Walsingham, January 13; Russell; O’Daly.

[85] The Queen to Grey, January 28, 1582; G. Fenton to Walsingham, March 28; St. Leger to Fenton, March 24.

[86] G. Fenton to Walsingham, May 8, 1582; St. Leger to Walsingham, and Justice Meade to same, May 28; Loftus and Wallop to Walsingham, June 7; Grey to Walsingham, June 16.

[87] Maltby to Walsingham, June 17, 1582; Wallop to Walsingham, June 21; Walsingham to Grey, June 25; Lady Desmond to Burghley, August 28; Lords Justices to the Privy Council, October 12; Four Masters, 1582; O’Daly.

[88] G. Fenton to Walsingham, November 5, 1581. In a letter to Walsingham of July 2, 1582, Grey complains that Burghley listens to slanderers; the Queen’s opinion, &c., July, No. 76. The sword was delivered August 31.

[89] Spenser’s View of the State of Ireland. This is one of the many passages tending to prove that the original shamrock was the wood-sorrel, and not the white clover, which could never have been edible; consult Bentham’s British Flora under Oxalis, and see below note to chapter 52. St. Leger to the Queen, March 12, 1582, to Burghley, April 20; Justice Meade to Walsingham, May 28. The soldiers were nearly as badly off as the natives, Dowdall to Walsingham, April 24. In the relation of Lord Grey’s services (September 1582) is mentioned ‘the general destruction of the enemy’s churls.’ The churls were the non-combatant country folk.

[90] Grey to the Privy Council, April 12, 1582; to Walsingham, May 7; a friend to Mrs. Nugent, July 5, 1583; Sidney’s Brief Relation, 1583. Sir Robert Dillon, who succeeded Nugent as Chief Justice, was much blamed for his conduct in this case; see his letter to Walsingham, June 25, 1582.

[91] John Nugent’s confession, February 5, 1582; petition to Burghley, September (No. 85); Ormonde to Burghley, May 30, 1583; Janet Nugent’s petition, August 30; warrants for the remission of her fine and for restoration to her property, April 18, 1584. It is stated that the fine was imposed on the information of John Cusack. William Nugent left Ireland in or before January 1582.

[92] Grey to Walsingham, May 7, 1582; Mr. Rawley’s opinion, October 25. Ormonde’s appointment was announced on December 3.

[93] The Bishop of Ross to the Lords Justices, October 9, 1582, with remarks by the Lords Justices; Auditor Jenyson to Burghley, September 4; St. Leger to Burghley, September 22, and to the Lords Justices, September 26; the Portreeve of Cashel to the Lords Justices, September 28.

[94] Letter from Onor Cartye enclosed in one from the Lords Justices to Walsingham, October 3, 1582; St. Leger to Burghley and Walsingham, September 22.

[95] Maltby to Walsingham, June 21, 1582; Clanricarde to Maltby, July 7; Fenton to Leicester, August 13; to Walsingham, August 23. The award is in Carew, under November 17.

[96] Barnaby Gooche to Burghley, August 27, 1582; Justice Meade to the Lords Justices, October 13; Lord Justice Loftus to Burghley, November 5; Lords Justices to Burghley, December 8; Spenser’s State of Ireland.

[97] St. Leger to Fenton, October 31; to the Queen and to Burghley, November 26, 1582; Burghley to Loftus and Fenton, and to St. Leger, December 9; St. Leger to Burghley and Walsingham, February 2, 1583.

[98] Earl of Ormonde’s demands, &c., November 1582; Walsingham to Wallop, December 6; Burghley to the Lords Justices, December 8; Rate for 1,000 men to be sent into Munster, December 15; Lords Justices to Burghley, January 5, 1583; Ormonde to Walsingham, January 27; Wallop to Walsingham, February 7 and March 6; Minute for the Lords Justices, March 5; Ormonde to the Lords Justices, March 20. Ormonde left London, or Windsor, December 22, and landed at Waterford (viâ Milford) January 21, having been long hindered by storms.

[99] St. Leger to Burghley, Oct. 29, 1582, and Jan. 16, 1583; and to Walsingham, Feb. 11.

[100] G. Fenton to Burghley, Feb. 24, 1583; Ormonde to the Privy Council, Feb. 28 and April 5; to the Queen, April 24; to the Privy Council and to Burghley and Walsingham, May 28; to the Lords Justices, June 15; to the Queen, June 18; to Walsingham, June 22; Thomas Mynne to Wallop, April 9.

[101] G. Fenton to Walsingham, Jan. 16; St. Leger to Walsingham, Feb. 11; Sir W. Stanley to Fenton, May 25; Desmond to Ormonde, June 5; Ormonde to Burghley and to the Queen, June 18; to Burghley, June 22.

[102] St. Leger to the Queen, May 8 and Aug. 5 (the latter was intercepted); to Burghley, Aug. 5 and Oct. 19; to Walsingham, Aug. 5, 1583, and Sept. 14, 1584; Ormonde to Burghley, Oct. 20, 1583; to the Privy Council, Jan. 23, 1584; to Burghley, Jan. 26, 1584; Walsingham to Ormonde, March 25 and June 12, 1583; Lords Justices to Walsingham, June 18, 1583; G. Fenton to Walsingham, May 30, 1583. The tone of all Wallop’s and Fenton’s letters is unfriendly to Ormonde.

[103] Ormonde to Burghley and to Walsingham, July 10, 1583. The nobles and gentlemen who came to Ormonde at Cork and gave pledges were as follows:—Earl of Clancare; Lords Barrymore, Roche, Kinsale and Lixnaw; Sirs—Thomas of Desmond, Owen MacCarthy Reagh, Owen O’Sullivan, Barry Roe, Lord Lixnaw’s son Patrick, the White Knight, Patrick Condon, the seneschal of Imokilly, Cormac MacDermot, nephew to Sir Cormac MacTeig, Callaghan MacTeig MacCarthy, brother to Sir Cormac MacTeig, O’Sullivan More, Donell, nephew to Sir Owen O’Sullivan, O’Donoghue More (inhabiting in MacCarthy More’s country), O’Donoghue of Glenflesk, MacDonogh MacCarthy of Duhallow, O’Keefe, MacAuliffe, O’Callaghan, MacFynnyne, William, brother to the Knight of Kerry, Thomas Oge, seneschal of Kerry, Donogh MacCragh (a rhymer), and divers captains of gallowglasses of the MacSwineys and the MacSheehy’s.

[104] St. Leger to Burghley, Aug. 5 and Oct. 19, 1583; N. White to Burghley, Aug. 24; Ormonde to Burghley, Sept. 4 and 23 (the latter enclosing Lord Roche’s letter); Privy Council to Ormonde, Sept. 19.

[105] I have followed the strictly contemporary account printed by Archdeacon Rowan in the Kerry Magazine (Jan. 1854), and reprinted by Miss Hickson in Old Kerry Records. No other account is so full, and it is easily reconciled with the Four Masters and with Ormonde’s letters printed by Mr. Gilbert in vol. iv. of the Irish National MSS, and see Ormonde to Walsingham and Burghley, Nov. 28, and Smith’s Cork.

[106] The spot where Desmond fell is on the right bank, rather low down in the glen. No doubt the cabin where he spent the night was higher up. In the survey made by Sir Valentine Browne and others, and privately printed by Mr. S. M. Hussey, is the following passage: ‘A great wood here and there, filled with oak-trees fit for house timber, but not large enough for the making of ships and castles. But the greater part of the said wood consists in underwood of the age of fifty and sixty years, filled with dotted trees—ash, hazels, sallows, willows, alders, birches, white-thorns and such like…. The wood is called Glanageenty, in which the late Earl of Desmond was slain in his rebellion, containing in length about four miles, and in breadth two miles, which said woods, because no woods there are saleable, and they lie under the mountains of Slew-Logher, far from any river or navigable stream, are here valued at nil.’ I inspected the ground in June 1883.

Source: Project Gutenberg

Dantonien Journal