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Sir William St Leger.
DIED A. D. 1642.
We have already mentioned the origin of the ancient family of St Leger, * in our notice of Sir Anthony, grandfather to the eminent soldier of whom we are now to give some account. We have also already noticed the death of his brave father, Warham St Leger, who fell in an encounter with the rebel leader, Macguire, whom he at the same time slew.
In consideration of the eminent services of these and other ancestors of this family, Sir Anthony was early considered entitled to the favours of the crown, and received large grants and privileges from James I. In April, 1627, he was appointed lord-president of Munster, with the command of the company which belonged to his predecessor in office, Sir Edward Villiers. He was at the same time made a member of the privy council. As president, his success, prudence, and strict integrity, as well as his disinterested conduct, gained so much approbation as to induce king Charles to bestow upon him the sum of £756.
In 1639, he was elected member of parliament for the county of Cork; and immediately after, was appointed sergeant-major general of the army, in which capacity he commanded the Irish troops levied to serve in Scotland in 1640.
When the rebellion broke out, his force was little adequate to the demand of the emergency, until he was strengthened by some regiments sent over to his aid by the parliament, and joined by other southern nobles with their companies. His deficiency of force was, however, from the outset compensated by superior prudence and decision, The rebellion, which had already spread its terrors over every other province of Ireland, at last found its way to Munster. The borders of the province began to suffer from parties of the Wexford rebels, who drove off the cattle of the English about Waterford. On receiving a report of these exploits, St Leger marched with two hundred horse to recover the spoil
. The season was inclement—there had been a heavy fall of snow, followed by a sharp frost; and the difficulty necessarily to be encountered, in consequence of a state of weather particularly unfavourable to the march of cavalry, was aggravated by the nature of the country to be passed. The steep and craggy passes of the Waterford mountains offered impediments more formidable than the enemy;
these were, nevertheless, happily overcome by the patience and resolution of St Leger and his little band of hardy veterans. At the base of the Commeragh mountains he overtook the first small division of these robbers, whose portion of the spoil he rescued, and took nineteen prisoners. The main body was, however, six miles further on,
and having gained the Suir, were preparing to cross that river with their prey. Some had crossed, but a large party stood prepared to defend their booty on the bank. Their resistance was ineffectual, and served to cause an effusion of blood; of their number one hundred and forty were killed on the spots a considerable number drowned in their attempt to escape across the water, and fifty prisoners were taken and conveyed into Waterford, where forty of them were executed. On the following day, while he was yet in Waterford, an account reached that city, that the archbishop of Cashel was plundered. On this he marched to Cashel, and recovered the cattle which had been driven away and lodged in the enclosure of a gentleman in the neighbourhood.
This was but the beginning of troubles in Munster: the tide of rebellion soon poured in and filled every district with its waters of confusion: Cashel, Clonmel, Dungarvon, and Fetherd, were summoned by the rebels, and yielded without resistance. On hearing this, the president despatched orders to the lord Broghill
, the earl of Barrymore, Sir Hardress Waller, Sir Edward Denny, Sir John Browne, Captain William Kingsmill, and serjeant-major Searle, and was joined by these leaders, with six hundred foot and three hundred horse. He had at the same time, been enabled to raise a regiment, with two troops of horse, together amounting to one hundred and twenty men: with these raw, and half-trained soldiers, it was resolved to make a stand. Notwithstanding the disadvantages under which he lay, and the strength of the enemy-which was at the lowest four to one compared with this combined force—the presidents with his officers, took up a position at Redshard, a pass from the county of Limerick into the county of Cork, at the eastern extremity of the Ballehoura mountains.
The rebel army soon appeared headed by the lord Muskerry. The president was engaged in preparations for an immediate attack, when a person of the name of Walsh, a lawyer, attended by a trumpet, came from Muskerry, Walsh desired to speak with the lord-president alone: the president and other gentlemen in the company recognised Walsh and expressed their wonder that a man of his reputation should have joined the rebels. Walsh, in reply, assured the lord-president that there was no rebellion, as he could satisfy him in private. The other lords objected to this private conference, and Walsh refused to deliver his errand. The difference was compromised : a strong party of soldiers was placed round the spot where the president gave audience to him. This being arranged, the president heard with surprise, that the lord Muskerry acted under a commission from the king, which Walsh offered to prove by producing the commission, if he might have a safe conduct to go and return for the purpose. The president agreed; and having communicated this to his officers, they all agreed that he should await the return of Walsh on the morrow. Lord Broghill alone expressed his opinion that the message must be “a cheat; and that the king would never grant out commissions to those, whom in his proclamations he had declared rebels."
On the return of Walsh to his own party, lord Muskerry drew off his army, and there was a général stop to all military operations. Next day Walsh returned, and on being admitted to a meeting with the lord-president St Leger, produced a large parchment with the broad seal affixed, containing a royal commission to lord Muskerry to raise 4000 men. On this the president returned to his officers, and informed them that lord Muskerry had really good warrant for what he did, and declared that he would dismiss his men. In this all concurred with the exception of lord Broghill, and accordingly withdrew to their houses.
The sense of having been the dupe of this unfortunate fraud, and the deepening of the troubles of the time, preyed so heavily on the spirits of St Leger, that he fell into a long and severe illness, which brought him to his grave, 2d July, 1642. He was twice married, and left four sons and one daughter.
DIED A. D. 1643.
Roger MOORE, or O’MORE, was the representative of the ancient family of Leix, in the province of Leinster. The names of his ancestors have frequently occurred in those pages. A sept bordering upon the English pale, must have been exposed to the constant effects of those mutual aggressions, which slight occasions were ever sufficient to provoke from either side. And as the English power became ascendant before the secret of this ascendancy was fully comprehended by the Irish, the spirit of opposition continued until the retaliations of the government became more decisive and overwhelming. The native leaders, looking on their numbers, and on the experience of previous encounters, little calculated on the consequence of a more regulated and deliberate direction of the English force, and inadvertently pushed their aggressions to extremity. With a fallacious confidence in their own strength, and ignorance of the real resources of the government, they continued to present a front of resistance, till they drew upon themselves utter destruction.
In the reign of Mary, the O’Mores had been expelled from their possessions; and we must assent to the general sense of our authorities, that there was in this violent and extreme proceeding a very considerable mixture of injustice and deception. The result was a hereditary enmity to the English—a passion in its fullest violence inherited by Roger Moore.
Having passed some years of his youth in Spain, he was, while there, chiefly conversant with those Irish or their descendants who had taken refuge in that kingdom after the rebellion of the earl of Tyrone, and who naturally cherished the recollections of their ancestral honours, and of the wrongs which they attributed to the English; these sentiments were inflamed by the national enmity of Spain, which had for the course of the last generation burned against England with a violence unabated by occasional intervals of alliance and peace. The humiliations of reverse are relieved in some measure by the recollections of the “times of old;" there is a dignified character in suffering for a great cause, and a romantie grandeur in the resentment of national wrongs. The companions of Moore—young men of enterprising spirit and military ambition—were invested with the honours of misfortune; and living among a romantic and ardent people, learned to feel their own proud importance as patriots, and as the sufferers of adversity in a noble cause. Such was the congenial atmosphere in which the ardour of Roger Moore caught fire. But his was not a spirit to waste its fervour in the peaceful ostentation of suffering heroism. While his enthusiastic spirit was inflamed by the traditions of ten thousand wrongs, and exalted with the glory of a noble line, his enterprise was roused, and his active and ready intellect was stimulated to projects of revenge, and for the recovery of his possessions. Among his companions who fed themselves with resentment and hope, there could be no want of breasts to respond to this excitement, and Moore met encouragement, applause, exhortations, and promises of assistance. Above all, his designs met encouragement from the son of the late unfortunate Hugh O'Neile. O'Neile had obtained a regiment in the Spanish service: he was looked up to by his countrymen at home and abroad with feelings something similar to those with which the descendants of Stuart were regarded in England and Scotland.
This temper was additionally excited by the agency of deeper and wider causes. Years before the rebellion, lord Strafford received information from M-Mahon, an Irish priest, that a general insurrection in Ireland was designed, and that great exertions were making to obtain foreign assistance. As the time drew nigh similar warnings flowed in from the residents in every foreign court. And the Irish lordsjustices received an intimation from the English cabinet, “ that there had passed from Spain, and other parts, an unspeakable number of Irish churchmen to England and Ireland, and some good old soldiers, under pretence of raising levies for the king of Spain; and that it was whispered by the Irish friars in that kingdom, that a rebellion was shortly expected in Ireland, particularly in Connaught."*
In Ireland the insurrection was mounting to the point of combustion. The agents mentioned in the despatch of secretary Vane, were not remiss in their labour of love; and Moore was not less industrious or successful in conciliating, inflaming, concentrating, and organizing the spirits and the resources of Irish patriotism. He was indeed eminently qualified for the office; his mind was endowed with all the nobler tones of the Irish character; he had imagination to exalt and dignify, enthusiasm to animate and warm, eloquence to communicate: his high bearing and graceful address could win the eye, and his frank and earnest patriotism strike corresponding flashes from the simple and ardent hearts of his countrymen. Though not gifted with solid and practical wisdom-he was quick, ingenious, and penetrating, and
Carte, Letter xviii. Vol. III.
possessed that instinctive insight into character which enabled him to
the master passion of his hearer, and avail himself of the motives by which each individual was most likely to be influenced. With these qualifications for the task of awakening insurrection, he was also gifted with a humane and honourable temper, which had he been a wiser man, would have checked his career, and restrained him from the application of that fatal brand, which it cost so many years of blood and gall to quench ineffectually. But Moore was a creature of romance, his dream was the vindication of national rights, and he fondly thought that armed violence could be limited by the feeble barriers of justice, honour, and humanity. With the advantage of a popular manner and prepossessing exterior, he quickly won the hearts of the common people: he was extensively and highly connected with many
of the noblest families of the pale, and maintained a familiar intimacy with the noblest of the English race. His influence was thus easily extended into every quarter, and there was no circle in which he had not means to try his way, and if possible, insinuate disaffection. With all these advantages he gained a rapid ascendancy.
Among his kindred and friends he found some whom their fortune and tempers recommended more especially as fit objects for his purposes: Richard Plunket, a son of Sir Christopher Plunket, Maguire lord Iniskillen, MacMahon, Philip Reilly, and Tirlogh O'Neile. To each of these he presented the suggestions most adapted to their several characters and positions: ta all he urged the facilities and probabilities in favour of a general rising. He advised that each should endeavour to gain over his own friends to the project: and that they should hasten their preparations for declaring themselves in a few months, when the approach of winter should lessen the danger of any
interference from England. Of the first overtures which he made to these conspirators, a minute account has been given by lord Maguire: from this we shall here give a full extract, as the most satisfactory statement which can be obtained of the beginning of this most disastrous rebellion :- “ Being in Dublin, Candlemas term last was twelve months, 1640, the parliament then sitting, Mr Roger Moore did write to me, desiring me that, if I could in that spare time, I would come to his house, for then the parliament did nothing but sit and adjourn, expecting a commission for the continuance thereof, their former commission being expired; and that some things he had to say to me that did nearly concern me; and on the receipt of his letter, the new commission for continuing the parliament landed, and I returned him an answer that I could not fulfil his request for that present; and thereupon he came himself to town presently after, and sending to me, I went to see him at his lodging. And after some little time spent in salutations, he began to discourse of the many afflictions and sufferings of the natives of that kingdom, and particularly in those late times of my lord Strafford's government, which gave great distaste to the whole kingdom. And then he began to particularize the sufferings of them that were the more ancient natives, as were the Irish: now that on several plantations they were all put out of their ancestors' estates. All which sufferings, he said, did beget a general discontent over all