Page images

nothing less, than to subvert the title to every estate in every

part of Connaught, and to establish a new plantation through " the whole province. A project, which when first proposed in “ the late reign, was received with horror and amazement, but “ which suited the undismayed and enterprising genius of Lord “ Wentworth. For this he had opposed the confirmation of the “ royal graces transmitted to Lord Faulkland, and taken to him"self the odium of so flagrant a violation of the royal promise. “ The parliament was at an end, and the deputy was at leisure " to execute a scheme, which as it was offensive and alarming, “ required a cautious and deliberate procedure.”

The daring efforts of mercenary informers, the penetrating researches of rapacious adventurers, and the overstrained ingenuity of court lawyers, were all employed by Wentworth in forwarding his darling project. He proceeded at the head of the commissioners of plantation to the western province. He had previously intimidated the county of Leitrim into a voluntary recognition of the king's title and submission to a plantation. He next entered upon Roscommon : and there the king's title was unexceptionably found without scruple or hesitation. If we give credit to Wentworth's own accounts of the preparations and dispositions he had made to secure the success of this project, we shall agree with Leland's observations, that the presence and interposition of a lord deputy, and a deputy whose character and temper were fitted to operate on men's passions, had probably their full effect on this occasion.* He told the juries, that his majesty's intentions in establishing his undoubted title, was to make them a rich and civil people ; that he proposed not to deprive them of their just possessions, but to invest them with a considerable part of his own: that he needed not their interposition to vindicate his right, which might be established in the usual course of law, upon an information of intrusion; but that he wished his people to share with him in the honour and profit of the glorious and excellent work he was then to execute. To his majesty it was indifferent, whether their verdict should deny or find his title. If they were inclined to truth and their own interests, they were to find the title for the king: if to do that, which was simply best for his majesty, without regard to their own good, the deputy advised them roughly and pertinaciously to deny to find any title at all.f Mayo and Sligo followed the example of Roscommon, and found for the king. But the Galway jury less pliant, did not find the king's title; and we learn from the deputy's own words how he treated them,

* St. Let. 1 r. p. 443. + St. Let. 1 v. p. 442. Wentworth adds, that after this speech to the jury, " there I left them to chant together, as they call it, over their evidence, and " the next day they found the king's title without scruple or hesitation."


the sheriff and council on this account. *" We bethought our “ selves, says he, on this occasion, of a course to vindicate his " majesty's honour and justice, not only against the persons of "the jurors, but also against the sheriff

' for returning so insufficient, indeed we conceive, so packed a jury, and therefore we fined the sheriff in a 1000l. to his majesty. The jury

were fined 4000l. each; their estates were seized and them. “ selves imprisoned, till the fines were paid.” Such was the sentence pronounced against them in the castle chamber,t to which his lordship had bounden them over, and where he con. ceived, “Ị it was fit that their pertinacious carriage should be “ followed with all just severity.” And," as for the coun. * sellors of the law, says he, who so laboured against the king's

title, we conceive it is fit that such of them as we shall find is

reason to proceed withal, be put to take the oath of suprema

cy, which if they refuse, that then they be silenced and not " admitted to practice.” However ready the deputy had at first been to bear the personal odium of the king's breach of proinise and faith to his Irish subjects, yet latterly there appears to have been a mutual engagement between the king and deputy to assume conjointly the blame and infamy of each other's conduct towards that unfortunate nation. Wentworth assures us, that upon his making a report to the king and council of these proceedings, his majesty said, “it was no severity, wished him to *

go on in that way ; for that if he served him otherwise, he " should not serve him as he expected. So I kneeled down," adds he, “kissed his majesty's hand, and the council rose."


St. Let. 1 v. p. 451. † This appears to have been the practice of his predecessors on similar oc'casions, which evidently was not the most effectual mode of reconciling the affections of the Irish to the humane laws, and mild government of England. “ The star chamber, (said Lord Deputy Chichester in 1613) is the proper “place to punish jurors, that will not find for the king upon good evidence. » Des. Cur. Hib. 1 v. p. 362.

St. Let. ubi supra:

St. 1 vol. 454. 11 Were it not for these arowals by the parties themselves, one could be 'scarcely induced to credit the grounds upon which the commons of England voted the following amongst other grievances under Strafford's administration, to le real: viz. “ That jurors who gave their verdict according to their con" sciences, were censured in the castle chamber in great fines; sometimes pil. * lored, with loss of ears, and bored through the tongue, and sometimes marked .“ in the forehead, with other infamous punishments.” We have indeed his own testimony for the various cautionary practices he was wont to use on these occasions. In a letter to the secretary, he says ( St. Let. 1 vol. 353.) *** This house is very well composed, so as the Protestants are the majority i " and this may be of great use to confirm and settle his majesty's title to the

plantations of Connaught and Ormonde ; for this you may be sure of; all “ the Protestants are for plantations, all the other against them : so as these “ being the greater number, you can want no help they can give you therein. jar

Nay, in case there be no title to be made good to these countries in the

[ocr errors]

It was impossible, that some complaints of the harsh, imperious, and unjust administration of Wentworth should not reach the royal ear: but his influence upon the mind of Charles was proof against all the efforts of his enemies. He was, indeed, recalled, but upon representing his own case to the king, besides receiving the order of the garter and earldom of Strafford, he was confirmed in his station, under the more honourable title of lord lieutenant. The king's necessities obliged him to call parliaments both in England and Ireland: and although the Irish parliament readily voted six more subsidies, the commons considering supplies and grievances to go hand in hand, presented a very strong petition of remonstrance, * setting forth in fourteen separate articles, the grievances that nation then labour. ed under. Strafford being justly alarmed at the progress and conduct of the Scotch covenanters, and perceiving the affairs of his royal master, both in England and Scotland, to be on the decline, raised a body of 9000 men in Ireland, 8000 of which were Roman Catholics; well knowing that he could rely upon their loyalty and zeal for his majesty's crown and dignity. The Irish,t said he, were as ready for this purpose to venture their he laboured, therefore, privately to persuade the king, * « that “ the Irish did not distaste him so much, as willingly to change “ him, or to desire any new deputy in his stead, and that if it were left to their choice, they would not have any

persons, as they were to open their purses.' Conscious, however, that he was represented in England (and not without reason) as obnoxious to this body of men, he conceived, nevertheless, the vain ambition of commanding them in the field :I "crown, yet should I not despair forth of reasons of state and for the strength “ and security of the kingdom to have them passed to the king by an imme. * diate act of parliament.” And in the same letter he adds, " that he consi. a dered that majority of the Protestants in the house of commons as a good " rod to hold over the Papists.” And ( St. L. 442) he further informs us, that he had given special directions to have men of fortune returned upon the juries in Connaught, for the first trials of the defective titles, because this " being a leading case for the whole province, it would set a value in their "estimation upon the goodness of the king's title, if found by those persons of " quality. And on the other hand, if the jury should prevaricate, he would "be sure they to have persons of such means, as might answer to the king in " a round fine in the castle chamber: and because the fear of that fine would “ be apter to produce the desired effect in such persons, than in others, who « had little or nothing to lose.” He elsewhere (Ib. 339) admits, “ that he

enquired after fit men to serve upon juries; and treated with such as would "give furtherance to the king's title." And he also proposed the raising of 4000 horse as good lookers on whilst the plantations were settling: And in still further promotion of this favourite scheme, he prevailed upon the king to bestow twenty per cent. or one full fifth of the value of all the estates to the lord chief justice and chief baron. Which he says (St. Let. 2 vol. 41)," he " had found upon observation, to be the best given that ever was: for that by * these means, they did intend that business with as much care and diligence

as if it were their own private: and that every four shillings once paid would e better his majesty's revenue four pounds."

Quod vide in App. No. XXI. + St. Let. 2 vol. passim.

A high, though ungracious compliment to the men whom he had ever disliked and persecuted.


other gene“ ral but himself.” Although the arrogance and pride of Strafford prevented him from being beloved by individuals, his vanity and ambition rendered him greedy of public admiration and esteem: finding therefore his power on the decline, he descended to the pitiful shift of forcing his own eulogy upon the national records by means of his creatures in parliament. The preamble of the last act of subsidies contains the most fulsome forced panegyric of his sincere and upright administration, with thanks to his majesty for having placed

over them so wise, just, and vigilant a governor. These very commoners, however, in the very next session of parliament, entered into a solemn protestation (in which they were joined by the lords),t “ that “ the aforesaid preamble to the act of subsidies was contrived,

penned, and inserted fraudulently (without the privity of the “ house, either by the earl of Strafford himself, or by some other

person or persons advisors, procurors, or actors of or in the “ manifold and general grievances and oppressions of his ma“ jesty's kingdom of Ireland, by the direction and privity of the “ said earl, on purpose to prevent and anticipate the just and “universal complaints of his majesty's faithful, dutiful and lov“ ing subjects against him.” It is well known, that the Earl of Strafford was attainted by the English parliament of high treason, and suffered death as a traitor, and that the attainder was afterwards reversed by parliament under Charles II. upon the grounds that the turbulent party not being able to convict him of any single act of treason, had framed, and by force and violence passed an act for his attainder for accumulative or constructive treason. In making every allowance for the opposite extremes of party prejudice in the years 1641 and 1660, we must not dissemble, that Strafford, though innocent of treason, was guilty of high misdemeanors; and considering the force of example and the evil consequences of high misdemeanors in the supreme governor of a kingdom, it is but a tribute of justice to a much traduced nation, to lay before the public the solemn and considerate judgment of their sovereign, upon those very acts of his friend and favourite, of which he saw but too late the inischief and enormity. Within a fortnight before the execution of the Earl of Strafford, his majesty made a speech to the house of peers, in which after telling them that he had been

* Ibid.

+ 1 Journ. Com. of Ireland, 176. As this protestation throws strong light upon the temper of the Irish, immediately before the grand rebellion, it is given in the Appendix, No. XX111.

present at the hearing of that great case from one end to the other; " I must, says he, tell you, that I cannot in my conscience “ condemn him of high treason, &c. I desire rightly to be “ understood: for though I tell you


conscience I cannot “ condemn him of high treason, yet I cannot say I can clear “ him of misdemeanures, &c. Nay, for misdemeanures I am « so clear in them, that though I will not chalk out the way, yet “ I will shew you, that I think my Lord Strafford is not fit “ hereafter to serve me, or the common-wealth, in any place “ of trust; no, not so much as a constable."*

Although Charles had given this solemn testimony of the misconduct of Strafford, yet so implicated was he in his lordship's system of governing Ireland, that he appointed by Strafford's recommendation his kinsman and creature Sir Henry Wandesworth, to succeed him. Fear, despair, and grief, brought on by the violent and oppressive administration of Strafford, soon occasioned the death of the new deputy. So infatuated however was the king with the system of his favourite, notwithstanding he had pronounced him unworthy to be even a constable, that he appointed Lord Dillon, the friend and relative of Strafford, and Sir William Parsons, lords justices of that kingdom; but finding that Lord Dillon was not agreeable to the Irish nation because of this intimacy and alliance, he cancelled the commission, and appointed Sir John Borlase, master of the ordnance, in his room. †No sooner, says Warner, were these ministers possessed of their high power, than they endeavoured to put the government on its former footing: in order to mollify the sharp humours, which some of the rigid measures of the Earl of Strafford's administration had introduced; the known laws of the land were made the standard of their government: and they gave all due encouragement to the parliament then sitting, for the ease and accommodation of his majesty's subjects in some important articles. Happy had it been for the king and kingdom that this system had been ever pursued!

Charles finding, that his frequent breaches of faith with the Irish, and the avowed misdemeanors of his favourite Strafford had tended greatly to estrange the affections of his Irish subjects, made one more effort to recal their attachment by a fresh pledge of his royal word. He wrote to the lords justices a public lettert of assurance that his loving subjects should from

After this testimony, what faith can be given to Carte, and our other bis. torians who follow him, telling us, " that there could not be a higher or juster " eulogium given of a governor, and of his upright and impartial administra" tion by any body of men, than was given of this lord lieutenant and his ad“ ministration by this house of commons : it was given nemine contradicente, and “ passed with loud and general acclamation of applause.” 10rm, 107. † Warner's Hist. of Reb. p.5.

| As the beginning of this letter shews the purport of the whole, it is to be seen in the Appendix, No. XXIV.

« PreviousContinue »