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professions, treaties, and pledges, to which he attached no weight and which deceived nobody who knew the Irish chiefs; they were yet entertained with some appearance of trust by the English court, and also gave a temporary pretext to his supporters and friends. When he possessed the means of resistance he respected no pledges; but when discomfited, his ready refuge was submission. Hence, the numerous treaties and the broken appointments, which it would be alike tedious and unprofitable to particularize. In the year we have been noticing, we are enabled to ascertain from the correspondence published by the State Paper committee, * that he occupied a large share of the attention of government, of which the above remarks will be found to be a faithful description. We, therefore, pass to the year 1542, when a more decided turn in the course of this powerful chief's life took place.
In a letter, dated the 24th August, 1542, the lord deputy and council acquaint the king that O'Niall had come to Dublin offering to go to England to visit the king, if they would supply him with money for the purpose; and affirming his own entire want of means, and adding, that “considering his good inclinations which were beyond all men's expectation,” they would endeavour to supply him for this important purpose. O’Niall made his visit, and was most graciously received ; his arrival was, however, preceded by a communication, expressive of due penitence for all his past offences, with strong professions of submission for the time to come. Asking pardon, and “ refusing my name and state, which I have usurped upon your grace, against my duty, and requiring your majesty of your clemency to give me what name, state, title, land, or living, it shall please your highness; which I shall acknowledge to take and hold of your majesty's mere gift, and in all things do hereafter, as shall beseem your most true and faithful subject.”
King Henry created him earl of Tyrone, and gave him the country of Tyrone.” The patent limits the earldom to Con O’Niall for life, with remainder to his son Matthew intail male. Matthew was by the same instrument created baron Duncannon. This Matthew was an illegitimate son; and his right of succession was forcibly disputed by other members of the family, which disturbed the old age of his father, and renewed the troubles of the country. A paper written by the secretary Wriothesly is quoted in the volume of State Papers, from which we have chiefly drawn this notice, gives some curious details of O’Niall's investiture. “A paper remains in the hand-writing of secretary Wriothesly, noting the presents to be made to O'Niall on this occasion, among which were robes of state, and a gold chain of the value of £100. And it appears by the register of the privy council, that the earl of Oxford was summoned to attend the king at Greenwich, on Sunday, 1st of October, to make a sufficient number of earls for O’Niall's investiture to that dignity; and, that as a further mark of favour, Mr Wiatt and Mr Tuke were, on the 3d of October, appointed to conduct the earl of Tyrone, [&c. &c.] on the morrow to do their duties to the young prince Edward.” The earl, on this occasion, renounced the name and style of O'Niall, engaged that he and his
• State Papers, from 1538 to 1540, Vol. ii.— State Papers, vol. ii. Paper ccclxxix. followers should assume the English dress, manners, customs, and language, and submit to English law. This arrangement may evidently be looked on as the commencement of a most important revolution in the state of Ireland; as it was followed by a like submission under all the same conditions on the part of other great chiefs, whom the gracious reception experienced by O'Niall encouraged to pursue a course, of which the honour and advantage was now becoming yearly more and more apparent. The course of events had been, during the whole of the reign of Henry, such as to show that sooner or later all pertinacious opposition to the progress of English dominion must be swept away; and although, as ever happens, the bulk of proprietors and petty chiefs looked no further than the shape and colour of the passing moment, sagacious or informed persons, whose means of knowledge were more extensive, saw and acted on the principle of securing themselves against changes likely to come. The dream of regaining a barbarian independence was roughly shaken.
The new earl—and he was at the time at the head of the native chiefs, for power and possession—was on his return sworn of the privy council in Ireland. O'Brien, O'Donell, Ulich de Burgho, and Desmond, soon followed, made the same renunciations, and received the same favours.
The next occurrence, of sufficient moment for notice, exhibits the advantageous operation of these arrangements, upon the state of the chiefs who had thus submitted. The earl of Tyrone, and some others among the Ulster chiefs, having fallen into disputes amongst themselves, instead of entering on a brawling war to decide their difference by the plunder and murder of their dependents, they came up to Dublin to lay their complaints before the lord lieutenant and council.
The earl of Tyrone seems, however, to have fallen under suspicion not long after. In 1551 (5 Ed. VI.), he was detained in Dublin for some months by lord lieutenant Crofts, on the apprehension of disturbances in Ulster. It is evident that the ties of ancient habit and hereditary pride must have long retained an influence beyond the force of any other ; but the earl was now become an old man, and probably felt the civilizing influence of that prudent season of life. Younger hands, too, were already grasping for his honours and possessions; and the growing force of British law must have assumed the aspect of a shelter and security against the unregulated violence of native ambition and turbulence. The occasion of the earl's embarrassment with the lord lieutenant, was in fact the result of contention among his descendants, and the unjust and dangerous disposition which he had made of the succession to the inheritance. Matthew, lord Duncannon, his recognised heir, was not only an illegitimate son; but common rumour, and the general opinion of the people, had long questioned his paternity, and it was said that he was the son of a smith. Indignant at a preference so questionable, the legitimate sons of the earl began to plot against the baron Duncannon, and soon succeeded in estranging from him the affection of the earl. Duncannon conceived the safest and surest resource would be to make common cause with the government. For this purpose he complained to the lord lieutenant, 'assuring him that his father and his brothers were leagued with the hope of throwing off their allegiance to the king, and re-asserting their independence. Upon this it was, that the earl was detained in close custody in Dublin. The other sons flew to arms, and attacked the lands of Matthew lord Duncannon, which they plundered and laid waste. Matthew was assisted by the English; but the deputy, in reliance upon the Irish lord's force, sent insufficient aid. The consequence was, a defeat sustained in an encounter with the brothers, John and Hugh, with a loss of two hundred slain. The war, (if we may so name it,) was, however, long kept up, and we shall have to notice its consequences under another head.
The earl of Tyrone does not further appear in any important transaction. This contention in his family clouded the prosperity of his latter days. He seems to have rested his affections on Matthew, baron Duncannon, who, it is probable, was not his son; and it was with impatient resentment he witnessed the successful encroachment of John O'Niall, whose active and turbulent disposition allowed no rest to Ulster. At length, having contrived to seize the person of Matthew, he put him to death. The old earl, who had put his whole heart into the contest, died of the shock.
Murrough O'Brien, First Earl of Thomond, and
Baron Inchiquin, .
DIED A. D. 1551,
AMONG the great Irish chiefs who joined in surrendering their claim to native dignities and to ancient hereditary tenures and privileges, which it became at this period both unsafe and inexpedient to retain, none can be named more illustrious, either by descent or by the associations of a name, than Murrough O'Brien. There was none also among these chiefs to whom the change was more decidedly an advantage. The O'Briens of Thomond had, more than any of the other southern chiefs, suffered a decline of consequence and power, under the shadow of the great house of Desmond—with which they were at continual variance, and of which it had for many generations been the family policy to weaken them by division or oppression. It is mentioned by Lodge in his Collectanea,* that it was the custom of the Desmond lords to take part with the injured branches of the O'Briens, with a view to weaken the tribe; and, in the middle of the sixteenth century, the house of Desmond was the first in Ireland for the extent of its territories, and the influence derived from numerous and powerful alliances.
Murrough O'Brien had obtained possession of the principality of Thomond by a usurpation, justified by the pretence of the ancient custom of tanistry, by which it was understood that the succession was determined by a popular election of the most worthy. By this ancient custom, so favourable to the strong, Murrough set aside his nephew,
whose loss, however, he compensated, by resigning to him the barony of Ibrackan. The possession thus obtained by a title, which had long been liable to be defeated by means similar to those by which it was acquired, he prudently secured by a precaution, at this time rendered effective by the policy of the English administration, and countenanced by the example of his most eminent native countrymen.
He submitted to the lord deputy, who advised him to proceed to England. In pursuance of this advice, O'Brien repaired to England, and made the most full renunciation of his principality, and all its appurtenant possessions, privileges, and dignities, into the hands of the king. He further agreed and bound himself to renounce the title of O'Brien—to use whatever name the king should please to confer—to adopt the English dress, language, and customs. He also engaged to cultivate his lands—build houses, and let them to proper tenants who might improve the land—to renounce all cess or other exaction, and keep no armed force without the express permission of the deputy. He further covenanted to be obedient to the king's laws, to answer to his writs, and aid his governors according to the requisition. He was to hold his lands by a single knight's fee. There is among the State Papers, published in 1834, one which purports to contain an abridgment of the “requests” of O'Brien and some of the other chiefs associated with him in this transaction. The following is the part relative to O'Brien:
“ First, he demandeth to him and to his heirs male, all such lands, rents, reversions, and services, as I had at any time before this day, or any other [person] to my use, which is named part of Thomond, with all rule and authority to govern all the king's subjects, and to order them in defence of the said country, according to the king's laws, and with all royalty thereto belonging; reserving to the king's majesty the gift of all bishopricks, and all other things to the crown or regality appertaining.
"Where the council of Ireland hath given him certain abbeys lately suppressed, he requireth the confirmation of that gift by the king's majesty, to him and to his heirs male.
“ Item. That the laws of England may be executed in Thomond, and the haughty laws and customs of that country may be clearly put away for ever.
“Item. That bastards froin henceforth may inherit no lands, and that those which at this present do inherit may enjoy the same during their lives, and after their death to return to the right heirs lawfully begotten.
“ Item. That there may be sent into Ireland, some well learned Irishmen, brought up in the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, not being infected with the poison of the bishop of Rome, and to be first approved by the king's majesty, and then to be sent to preach the word of God in Ireland.
“ Item. Some place of small value near Dublin, where he may prepare for his horses and folkis, if he shall be commanded to resort to parliament or council at Dublin.”* Such were generally the demands made by O'Brien, of which we
* State Papers, cccxciii, vol. iii.
have already mentioned the result. He was created earl of Thomond, with remainder to his nephew Donogh O'Brien, whom he had dispossessed by the law of tanistry, but who must, in the eye of English law, have been looked on as one defrauded of his right. As, however, this arrangement could not be quite satisfactory to Murrough, he was at the same time created baron Inchiquin, with remainder to the heirs of his body.
We have already given an extract descriptive of the ceremony of the creation of those Irish earls: a more detailed description which we have since met will not be thought superfluous by the reader who is curious upon the subject of ancient manners:
“ First, The queen's closet at Greenwich was richly hanged with cloth of Arras, and well strawed with rushes. And after the king's majesty was come into his closet to hear high mass, these earls and the baron aforesaid, [Murrough O'Brien, Donogh O'Brien, and William de Burgh] went to the queen's closet, and thereafter saeing of high mass put on their robes of estate, and ymediately after, the king's majesty being under the cloth of estate, with all his noble council, with other noble persons of his realm, as well spiritual as temporal, to a great number, and the ambassadours of Scotland, the earl of Glencairn, Sir George Douglas, Sir William Hamilton, Sir James Leyremonthe, and the secretary for Scotland, came in the earl of Tomonde, led between the earle of Derby and the earle of Ormonde, the viscount Lisle, bearing before him his sword, the hilt upwards, Gartier before him bearing his letters patent, and so proceeded to the king's majestie. And Gartier delivered the said letters patentis to the lord chamberlain, and the lord chamberlain delivered them to the great chamberlain, and the lord great chamberlain delivered them to the king's majesty, who took them to Mr Wriothesly, secretary, to reade them openly. And when he came to “Cincturam gladii," the viscount Lisle presented to the king the sword, and the king girded the said sword about the said earl bawdrickwise, the foresaid earl kneeling, and the lords standing that lead him. [This ceremony was repeated for the next earl, Clanrikard.] That done, came into the king's presence the baron [Donogh O'Brien, the nephew] in his kirtle, led between two barons, the lord Cobham, and the lord Clinton; the lord Montjoye bearing before him his robe, Gartier bearing before him his letters patents in the manner aforesaid, &c., &c. (the king handing these to Mr Paget to read out], and when he came to “ Investimus,” he put on his robe. And so the patent read out, the king's majesty put about every one of their necks a chain of gold with a crosse hanging at it, and took then their letters patent, and they gave thanks unto him. And then the king's majestie made five of the men that came with them knights. And so the earls and the baron in order, took their leave of the king's highness, and were conveyed, bearing their letters patent in their hands to the council chamber, underneath the king's majesty's chamber, appointed for their dining place, in order as hereafter followeth: the trumpets blowing before them, the officers of armes, the earl of Thomond led between the earl of Derby and the viscount Lisle, &c., &c., to the dining place. After the second course, Gartier proclaimed their styles in manner following: