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Period.) SIR R. WINGFIELD, FIRST VISCOUNT POWERSCOURT. 397
other commanders in France and in Belgium: in the siege of Dreux he signalized himself at the head of a storming party, and was among the first to enter the breach, in which exploit he received a severe wound in the head. Recommended by the voice of fame, he was appointed to a troop of horse, and sent into Ireland sometime in 1598, where he rose rapidly into honour and public trust during the wars against the earl of Tyrone.
In the year 1602, lord Mountjoy having, as already related, built a bridge over the Blackwater in a passage which he discovered to afford a key to Tyrone's country, and guarded it with a fort which he called Charlemont fort, after his own name Charles—he gave the command to Caulfield. Here the captain's services were so considerable, that he was rewarded by large grants out of the estates of the rebel earl.
Soon after the accession of king James, he was knighted, made a member of the privy council, and appointed governor of Charlemont fort, and of the counties of Armagh and Tyrone. From this, grants and honours accumulated ; among the rest he was appointed master of the ordnance, with the large allowance of £654 195. 5 d. per annum for himself, a lieutenant, cornet, and eighteen horsemen, at twelve pence a-day each.
His property must have been considerable when he was rated £100 to the subsidy in 8th July, 1615. He was of the commission in 1616 for setting the escheated lands in Ulster to undertakers. In consideration of his services in this and other arduous employments, of which we have here omitted the mention, he was created lord Caulfield, baron of Charlemont, by privy seal bearing date at Westminster, Nov., 1620, and limiting the title to his nephew, Sir William, and his issue male.
In March, 1621, lord Charlemont was joined in a commission of inquiry into the state of religion and justice, of trade and the army, plantations and revenues, &c.* He was joined with Dockwra and others, a commissioner and keeper of the peace in Leinster and Ulster, during the lord-deputy's absence.t
Lord Charlemont died in August, 1627, and was interred in Christ church, Dublin. He had never been married, and was succeeded by his nephew, Sir William Caulfield, the son of his brother, Dr James Caulfield.
Sir R. Wingfield, First Viscount Powerscourt.
DIED A. D. 1634.
THE Wingfields were a family of wealth and high consideration in Suffolk before the Norman conquest. Robert Wingfield was lord of Wingfield castle so early as 1087. From this Lodge, Austis, and other heraldic authors deduce many generations of eminent men, to the pers son who is here to be commemorated.
Richard Wingfield was the second son of Lewis Wingfield, himself
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Sir Richard Wingfield, having commenced his course by serving in Ireland, while yet a very young man, next accompanied his regiment to Flandern, where he obtained his company, by distinguished bravery and steadiness in the field. His succeeding service was in France, where he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel of Sir John Norris's regiment. In the expedition against Cadiz, he acquired high honour in his command, and obtained the rank of colonel. He was sent with Sir John Norris into Ireland, and maintained his reputation by distinguished service, so that his merits becoming known to the queen, he was raised to the high and responsible office of marshal of the camp. In this post he has already been presented to the reader's notice in our account of the battle of Kinsale, which was fought in 1601.*
In consideration of his general services, but still more especially of his conduct upon that memorable day, king James conferred upon him the title of viscount Powerscourt. It is in the preamble of his patent that it is enumerated among his other exploits that he slew Sir Cahir
* Page 150.
O'Doherty “in aperto prelio.” We have already quoted the patent, we here extract from Lodge:—“In 1608, Sir Cabir O'Dohertie, raising new commotions in Ulster, and among other outrages, burning the new city of Londonderry, Sir Richard Wingfield and Sir Oliver Lambert were sent from Dublin, (1st May) with a small body of men to suppress him; and no sooner did they enter the territory of Tyrconnel, than the traitors withdrew into their fastnesses, whom they diligently pursued and harassed ; and 14th June, taking Sir Neile O'Donell prisoner in the camp of Raphoe, conveyed him on board a king's ship lying in the harbour; and coming to a battle, Sir Richard slew O'Doherty, took Castledoe, and dispersed his rebellious followers.
For this exploit, in 1609, Sir Richard received a grant of the lands of Powerscourt, now so well known to the Irish public, for the magnificence of the demesne and the extensive and picturesque variety of the surrounding scenery.
Having, as already mentioned, been created viscount Powerscourt in 1618, he was in 1624 appointed upon the commission for keeping the peace in Leinster and Ulster, while the lord-deputy Falkland should be engaged in superintending the new plantations and visiting several districts.
In 1634 he died without issue male, and his title, according to its limitations, became extinct: his estates devolved by inheritance to Sir Edward Wingfield, his next male heir.
The title of Powerscourt was revived in the next generation in Folliott Wingfield, grandson to Sir Edward; he also died without issue, and the title was again extinguished, but was again renewed in Richard, son of Edward Wingfield, a barrister, who was cousin and heir to Folliott the last previous lord.
Phelim Machugh O'Byrne.
DIED A. D. 1630.
The beginning of the seventeenth century was a period when the moral character of society had sunk to its lowest condition in the nations of Europe. Political corruption had attained a base level, which filled every public office with falsehood, venality, and unfathomable perfidy: and produced effects both on the public mind and on the constitutional functions of the state, which had no slight efficacy in bringing about the civil wars both in England and Ireland. The rage for adventure and its congenial attendant and stimulant, the thirst for gain, were the predominating spirits of the hour; that they were perhaps the impulses required by the revolutions of that age, may be granted when we take no more remote and general view of the history of human changes. But it is the tendency of these dispositions to lower the nobler principles of our nature; and when little counteracted by the moral or intellectual discipline of that rude age, they played rude havoc with the virtue of the more ardent and fiery minds, which were impelled by the wave of impulse. Men who were exalted by their superior wisdom, and who had conceived large projects for the good of their generation, were not above acts which now would be regarded as degrading and mean by all who claim the ordinary rank of the educated middle classes in England, or of the very peasantry in Scotland. The judges on the bench were insensible to the sacred purity of their office. The heroes, and philosophers, and statesmen, stooped to accept of bribes for the prostitution of their influence or official powers: Raleigh, Bacon, Sully, names of the first water, are signal examples. That fraud, persecution, and every other foul malversation, should be found to overflowing in the obscure crowd, whose virtues and deeds could entitle them to no record, and whose names are only recorded by reason of the enormity of offences which required no talent to commit, is surely a simple deduction from the laws of man's nature. Such is the rational principle according to which we must view the grievous cases of persecution and plunder, of which we are pledged to offer an example. Writers who have endeavoured to reduce all the incidents of our history to the food which party prejudice desires, have loved to celebrate such instances as we shall here relate in detail. But performing this task, it is our duty to repel the misconstruction which has confounded private and merely personal vices with any distinguishing tendency of a party. Party has enough to answer for instances more than enough of the crimes and mischiefs it has generated can be raked together from the annals of every great revolution. The common feelings and avowed principles of every political party, are, it is true, generally established on high grounds of principle: the Romanist and the protestant severally stand upon certain opinions of truth and right; and each can justify the main courses of their respective policies by arguments, which at the lowest, are high-sounding and specious: either side can be shown to have committed errors, and history is not without awful examples of those enormities which must ever be feared when grievances are to be redressed or justice to be maintained by the inflamed fanaticism of the multitude. But the malversation of indi. viduals for their own private and selfish ends, can only be imputed to a party by the inconsiderate bolt of a rhetorician or the malignant ignorance of a journalist of the lowest class, who only desires to do mischief according to the precept of the ancient usurer, rem quocunque modo. In a word, if the reality of history be considered, and the actions of scoundrels on either side be justly weighed, they may
be fairly thrown into opposite scales, and there can be no decided preponderance on the score of moral guilt. If omitting the numerical count of the offenders, the assassin and the plunderer be thus compared with the oppressor and the usurper, the difference will consist in the weapons they used: had they changed places, the likelihood is, that the little scoundrel would have turned out a great scoundrel, and vice
During the reign of king James, the activity and ingenuity of fraud were strongly excited by the wide and favourable field for their exercise, which was offered by the extensive claims of the crown to large tracts of Irish land, and the numerous irregular methods which were set on foot for the purpose of ascertaining those rights. The facility of gain by unjust persecution thus presented to covetous and unscrupulous agents, was enough to hatch a numerous swarm of these foul rep
tiles into life. The base appetence of plunder was not altogether confined to any rank. The temptation was great, and the vigilance of government was not always equally alert. The communications were imperfect; and too much depended on the vigilance and firmness of the Irish governor.
We have already noticed the class of grievous abuses, of which we are now to offer a flagrant case; but we may extract the general statement with which it is prefaced by Carte.*
“ It was an age of adventurers and projectors; the general taste of the world ran in favour of new discoveries and plantings of countries; and such as were not hardy enough to venture into the remote parts of the earth, fancied they might make a fortune nearer home, by settling and planting in Ireland. The improvement of the king's revenue in a country, where it was far less than the charge of the government, was the colour made use of by such projectors, to obtain commissions of inquiry into defective titles, and grants of concealed lands and rents belonging to the crown, the great benefit of which was generally to accrue to the projector or discoverer, whilst the king was contented with an inconsiderable proportion of the concealment, or a small advance of the reserved rent. Every body was at work in finding out flaws in people's titles to their estates; the old Pipe rolls were searched to find out the old rents reserved and charged upon them; the patent rolls in the Tower of London, (where they are preserved in much greater numbers than in Ireland) were looked over for the ancient grants, and no means left untried to force gentlemen to a new composition, or to the accepting of new grants at a higher rent than before, in which indeed it generally ended—most persons either conscious of the deficiency of their title, or dreading the trouble, expense, and issue of a dispute with the crown, at a time and in a country where the prerogative ran very high, and that the judges universally declared their opinions in favour of it, choosing rather to make up the affair than stand a dispute, and so making a composition at as cheap a rate, and as easy an advanced rent as they could.”
We have already related the history of Pheagh Machugh O'Byrne. When he was killed in battle, queen Elizabeth, by letters patent, granted his estates to his son Phelim. King James, shortly after succeeding, gave orders for the confirmation of this grant. An officer of the
army in Ireland, who had been led to anticipate the forfeiture of these possessions on the rebel's death which unquestionably justified such an expectation, and had probably set his heart upon obtaining them for himself, was naturally disappointed at a disposition, which he perhaps may also have regarded as both impolitic and unjust. It is still more probable, that without troubling his head about either policy or justice, Graham resolved to make a strenuous effort to obtain the lands of the Byrnes. The first attempt thus made, was by issuing out a commission to inquire into the said lands. This commission was directed to certain official agents, closely connected with the applicant, and therefore the more easily accessible to his own wishes and representations. The case was, however, too clear to be thus disposed of
* Vol. I. p. 27.