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On the 23d of October, 1641, the lords justices issued a proclamation, by which they declared, “ that a discovery had Is been made of a most disloyal and detestable conspiracy, in“tended by some evil affected Irish Papists, universally through“ out the kingdom.” Whether this misrepsentation of the universality of the conspiracy arose from malice or design, certain it is, that the lords and gentlemen of the pale immediate, ly represented in a petition to the lords justices and council, that they and other innocent persons might seem to be involved as Catholics in the general terms of the proclamation; whereupon on the 29th of the same month, they sent forth an explanatory proclamation, declaring, that by the words “ Irish Papists " they intended only such of the old Mere Irish in the province “ of Ulster as had plotted, contrived, and been actors in that
treason, and others that adhered to them; and none of the “ old English of the pale or other parts of the kingdom."* Here I wish to draw an impervious veil over every scene of blood and horror which defiled the actors, as well as over the imaginary fictions and exaggerations which have disgraced most of our historical relations of these transactions. Suffice
* It is devoutedly to be wished, that one injunction of this latter proclama. tion had been attended to; for by it the lords justices enjoined all his majesty's subjects, whether Protestants or Papists, to forbear upbraiding matter of religion on this occasion.
+ There are no bounds to the exaggerations of our historians, as to the number of Protestants said to have been massacred by the Irish in this rebel. lion. Sir John Temple says, that 150,000 Protestants were massacred in cold blood, in the two first months of the rebellion. Sir William Petty coolly calculates 30,000 British were killed, out of war, in the first year of this insurrection. And Lord Clarendon laments, that in the first two or three days of it, 40 or 50,000 of them were destroyed. Dr. Warner, though very adverse to the Irish, confesses, that he could only collect from positive evidence and report for the first two years, that 4028 were killed, and that 8000 died of ill usage ; which he says was corroborated by a letter in the council book, at Dublin, written on the 5th of May, 1652, from the parliamentary commissioners in Ireland to the English parliament: which, in order to excite the parliament to greater severity or at least less lenity towards the Irish, tells them, that it then appeared, that besides 848 families, there were killed, hanged, and burnt, 6062. In justice, however, to Lord Clarendon, it must be mentioned, that he admits one fact that contradicts most of our authors, and is contrary to the generally received notion, that this rebellion first broke out by a general massacre of all the Protestants that could be found, in cold blood. " About the beginning of November (says he), 1641, the English and Scotch "forces in Carrickfergiis, murthered, in one night, all the inhabitants of the “ island Gee (commonly called Mac Gee), to the number of above 3000 men, “women, and children, all innocent persons, nin a time when none of the " Catholics of that country were in arms or rebellion. Note that this was the “ first massacre committed in Ireland, of either side.”, Clar. Hist. Rev. of ebe Affairs of Ireland, p. 329. This pathetic lamentation of Clarendon, which he must have known to be false, is to be placed to the account of his zeal for the good cause, and to be considered as one of the pious ejaculations of a gore frightened and irritated mind, which he completely falsifies when he returns to the duty of an historian. For how could 40,000 or 50,000 Protestants have of the insurgents as appeared to him seemed rather to be a « tumultuous rabble, than any thing like a disciplined army; “ and he was of opinion, that there were as many arms, within
it to say, that there appears to have been no preconcerted system or preparation for a rising on the part of the Irish, when their most virulent libeller Sir John Temple admits, that “ these rebels at their first risings out had not many better
weapons than staves, scythes, and pitchforks.” Borlase, who still improved upon Temple's rancour to the Irish, says, “ the “ first insurgents in Ulster, though without arms and ammuni“tion, got possession of most parts of the kingdom." The Earl of Ormond, according to Carte, acknowledged, that “ such
a few, in the hands of 600 of the king's forces, as there were “ amongst all the rebels then in the kingdom." But what Lord Clanrickard, to whom neither party refuses credit, says, is the most important to be known: “ That the Scots in Ulster were
40,000 well armed men, when the rebellion commenced; at the same time that the rebels were at least by half less nume. rous, and furnished with few better weapons than staves,
scythes, and pitchforks.” In the very outset of the rising in Ulster, the chiess of the insurgents, through fear of this formidable armed force of the Scots in Ulster, published a proclamation, “ forbidding their followers, on pain of death, to molest " any of the Scottish nation in body or goods." And Temple admits that this was for a time obeyed. The lords justices Parsons and Borlase, who gave deeply into the Puritan party, not only declined all offers, and checked every exertion of the loyal Catholics to put down the northern insurrection, but forced their ingenuity and power to the utmost, in order to drive the rest of the kingdom into a similar insurrection, for the base and profligate purpose of profiting of the forfeitures of those who should give into it;* in which nefarious project they too effectually sucbeen massacred within the two or three first days of the rebellion, which began on the 23d of October, when he tells us, that the 3000 Irish Papists massacred by the Protestants in the ensuing month, was the first massacre of either side. His lordship also gives this testimony of the Irish suffering without retaliation in Munster: “In Decy's county, the neighbouring English garri“sons of the county of Cork, after burning and pillaging all that county, they “ murthered above 300 persons, men, women and children, before any rebel. “ ljon began in Munster, and led 100 labourers prisoners to Caperquine, “ where being tried, by couples were cast into the river, and made sport to “ see them drowned. Observe that this county is not charged with any mur. “ther to be committed on Protestants.” Ibid. p. 396.
* “ Whatever (says Leland) were the professions of the chief governors, " the only danger they really apprehended, was that of a too speedy suppres; “sion of the rebellion. Extensive forfeitures was their favourite object, and " that of their friends.” 3 Leland, p. 160. They with some of their partisans in the council, says Carte (1 vol. p. 194), privately wrote to the Earl of Leicester, then lord lieutenant, desiring his secrecy, for they could not speak openly at the council board ; that he would not accept of any overtures for
ceeded. The conduct of these infamous justices, which goaded the loyal Irish into insurrection, is thus summarily detailed by Dr. Warner, who had evidently no propensity to favour the írish: *" The arbitrary power exercised by these lords justices; their
illegal exertion of it by bringing people to the rack to draw “ confessions from them; their sending out so many parties “ from Dublin and other garrisons to kill and destroy the rebels, “ in which care was seldom taken to distinguish, and men, wo
men, and children were promiscuously slain : but above all, " the martial law executed by Sir Charles Coote, and the bum“ ing of the pale for seventeen miles in length, and twenty-five “ in breadth, by the Earl of Ormond; these measures not only “ exasperated the rebels, and induced them to commit the like “ or greater cruelties, but they terrified the nobility and gentry “ from all thoughts of submission, and convinced them, that “ there was no room to hope for pardon, nor any means of safe" ty left them but in the sword.” And Leland observes, f“ that “ the favourite object both of the Irish government and English “ parliament, was the utter extermination of all the Catholic in. “ habitants of Ireland. Their estates were already marked out " and allotted to the conquerors, so that they and their posterity “ were consigned to inevitable ruin.” Thus was the nation compelled to arm in self-defence. The system of tyranny and oppression, under which they groaned they attributed to the parliament: and in resisting it, they then and ever since have considered themselves acting as royalists. It has been said, checking the Northern rebellion, because the charge of supplies from England would be abundantly compensated out of the estates of the actors in the rebellion.
* History of Rebellion, p. 183. † 3 Leland, p. 166.
Carte, the panegyrist of Ormond, tells us, that after Parsons's disgrace he owned to Clanrickard, that during Borlase’s and his administration, " the par“ liament's pamphlets were received as oracles, its commands obeyed as laws, " and extirpation preached for Gospel.” How infamous then was it not in Ormond, to lend himself as the base tool to their enormities. The prevention of the king's will that the acts of grace should be passed in parliament, the breach of faith with the lords of the pale, the suppression of the royal proclamations and pardons, unmerited and unresisted massacres, burnings, and pillages, were the further means, by which these justices forced the loyal Irish to resist the usurped tyranny of the parliamentarians.
Sir William St. Leger, the president of Munster, committed the most un. provoked murders and barbarities throughout that province, and when the principal nobility and gentry remonstrated with him upon the danger of their rising, he tauntingly insulted them all as rebels, would not trust one of them, “ and thought it most prudent to hang the best of them.” In this he was encouraged by Ormond, io whom he wrote on the 8th of November, 1641,“ that «s they were then only a company of ragged, naked roguès, that with a few " troops of horse would be presently routed.” And on the 11th,“ Never was " such a war heard of, no man makes head.” Carte Orm. The particular views for goading this province into rebellion, are fully laid open in Lord Corke's letter to the speaker of the House of Commons in England, which he
that a commission under the great seal to Phelim O'Nial to rise in arms against the usurped armed force of the Protestants in Ireland had been forged. The king's enemies affected to be. lieve it a true commission; their aim being to implicate his majesty in the business, by considering this commission as an open
declaration of war by Charles and his Irish Catholic subjects against his parliament and Protestant subjects. But the forgery of it by O'Nial (as he confessed it at the place of his execution) speaks highly in favour of the loyalty of the Catholics, who could on no other grounds be induced to take up arms, in support and defence of the king, and his crown and dignity, The king's conduct at this time, in relation to his Irish subjects, could have no other appearance in their eyes, than of compulsion : for they never could believe that the King of Ireland should adopt the unconstitutional and unjust measure of com, mitting to his English parliament the care and whole government of the kingdom of Ireland, they then having an independent parliament of their own. Yet that this was attempted, appears from the order of the two houses of parliament to the lords justices, in which no assent, or even derivative idea of the king's authority is referred to.* The lords and gentlemen of the pale, whose houses had been burned, whose lands had been destroyed, whose tenants had been murdered by the, Earl of Ormond under these parliamentary justices, without crime, provocation, or resistance, renewed their application to government to accept of their best endeavours to check and put a stop to the insurrection, now daily encreasing throughout the kingdom: but their overtures were indignantly rejected. The Earl of Castlehaven was imprisoned; and Sir John Read was put on the rack, for officious interference.t Thus at last was the whole body of the Irish Catholic nobility and gentry compelled, for self-preservation, to unite in a regular system of defence: which to this day is most unwarrantably and unjustly styled, an odious and unnatural rebellion. Nothing can so emphatically demonsent together with 1100 indictments, against persons of property in that province, to have them settled by crown lawyers, and returned to him: and so says he, “ if the house please to direct to have them all proceeded against to "outlawry, whereby his majesty may be entitled to their lands and possessions, " which I dare boldly affirm, was, at the beginning of this insurrection, not of “ so little yearly value as 200,000/.” This Earl of Corke was notorious during the two preceding reigns, for his rapacity; but this last effort he called the work of works. In Dublin, many were put to the rack, in order to extort confessions : and in the short space of two days, upwards of 4000 indictments were found against landholders, and other men of property, in Leinster. And numerous are the letters of Lord Clanrickard to Ormond, and others, complaining of similar attempts to raise Connaught into rebellion, even by Ormond's own troops.
* Vide Appendix, No. XXV.
+ Lord Castlehaven escaped out of prison, or probably would have undergone the same fate as Sir John Read.
strate the grounds and principles, upon which they associated on this occasion, as the oath of confederacy, by which they bound themselves to each other: it is expressive of unqualified allegiance to the king, and contains an undertaking with life, power, and estate, to support and defend the royal person, honours, estates, dignities, and prerogatives, against all impugners, thereof, &c.;* which certainly savours more of royalisin than rebellion.t It must indeed be acknowledged, that if England had been as early, sincere, and zealous in resisting the usurpation of these parliamentarian regicides as the Irish Catholics, the catastrophe of Charles, with all its consequences, would have been avoided.
The king, considering the circumstances of this general confederacy of the Catholics of Ireland, signed a commission on the 14th of January, 1642, directed to the Marquis of Ormond, the Earls of Clanrickard and Roscommon, Viscount Moore, Sir Thomas Lucas, Sir Maurice Eustace, and Thomas Bourke, Esq. to meet the principal confederates (who had petitioned his majesty to listen to their grievances) to receive in writing, what they had to say or propound. The Marquis of Ormond was a man of personai intrepidity, some military knowledge, and very extensive ambition ; imperious, haughty, vindictive, and impatient of control : he was so implacable to the Catholics, that in his hatred to them, he not only contravened the commands and wishes of his royal master, but basely descended to execute the sanguinary orders of his determined enemies. I So in lieu
Vide the form of oath, Appendix, No. XXVI. † Beyond the public notoriety of the conduct of the Catholics, if any one seek further proofs, at least of their conviction that they were acting loyally, let him read Clanrickard's letter to the king, in which he vouches for the general conviction and loyal disposition of his countrymen. The letter being very illustrative of the spirit and circumstances of these times, is given in the Appendix, No. XXVII. Lord Castlehaven also, amongst other reasons for joining the confederates, alleged the following. “ I began to consider the condition of the “ kingdom, as that the state did chiefly consist of men of mean birth and " quality, that most of them steered by the influence and power of those who “ were in arms against the king, that they had by cruel massacreing, hang"ing, and torturing, been the slaughter of thousands of innocent men, women, " and children, better subjects than themselves ; that they hy all their actions " shewed that they looked at nothing but the extirpation of the nation, the “ destruction of monarchy, and, by the utter suppression of the ancient Ca. " tholic religion, to settle and establish Puritanism. To these I could be no " traitor.” Des. Cur. H. 2. vol. p. 132. This is confirmed by the answer of the confederated Catholics, to commissioners sent from the justices, who in their commission had used the term odious rebellion ; amongst other things, they say: “ We take God to witness, there are no limits set to the scorn and “ infamy that are cast upon us; and we will be in the esteem of loyal subjects “ or die to a man."
It was well known to Ormond, that this committee was sent from the English parliament against the king's express commands. On his way, Or. mond took the castle of Timolin, which, after an obstinate resistance, sur. rendered : and although he had promised quarter to the garrison for heir