Page images
PDF
EPUB

of " the county," we presume a meeting of the Roman catholic gentry and priesthood, at Mayo, and was "for ever after," says the deposition, " under the command of the Romish clergy." All the English in the county of Mayo followed his lordship's example, with the exception of his own household; who are enumerated, on the authority of Mr Goldsmith, by Lodge as follows: "the viscountess Mayo, the lady Bourke, Mrs Burley, Mr Tarbock, Mr Hanmec, Owen the butler, Alice the cookmaid, Mr and Mrs Goldsmith, and Grace, their child's nurse." The condition of these can be conceived. Mr Goldsmith was, by his lordship's permission, and by the lady's desire, allowed to minister to the spiritual wants of this small congregation, "shut in by fear on every side." As this gentleman, appears under these circumstances, to have exercised great zeal and boldness in resisting the new opinions which were attempted every hour to be pressed upon the family, he soon became the cause of remonstrance and reproach against his protector. Lord Mayo was reproved by the titular archbishop, already mentioned, for suffering him to exercise his ministry, and insisted that he should "deliver him up to them." "What will ye do with him?" says my lord. "We will send him," said the bishop, "to his friends." "You will," said my lord, " send him to Shrule to be slain, as you did others; but if you will give me six of your priests to be bound body for body for his safe conveying to his friends, I will deliver him to you." The bishop must have thought his six priests something more than lawful change for one protestant divine, and perhaps rated rather lowly the orthodoxy of his noble convert; he refused the compromise, and prevailed with lord Mayo so far, that Mr Goldsmith was compelled to be confined to a private part of the house, and kept in daily fear of being murdered. On Sundays he was allowed to officiate clandestinely for the servants, till at last lady Mayo summoned up firmness to insist that he should be allowed openly to read prayers and preach to the few protestants who remained.

Lord Mayo was appointed governor of the county of Mayo, and admitted as one of their body by the supreme council of Kilkenny. In this new dignity his lordship did no harm, and performed some good services to humanity. On one occasion he interfered effectually to prevent one of those frightful massacres of unresisting victims which is the disgrace of that period. "The clan Jordans, the clan Steevens, and clan Donells, came to Strade and Ballysahan, and gathered together all the British they found there, closed them up in a house, (in the same manner as had been done at Sligo, when a butcher with his axe slew forty in one night) with an intent that night to murder them; but notice thereof having been given to the lord Mayo, he prevented their wickedness, and preserved the poor innocent people from slaughter." At last lord Mayo discovered that the councils of rebellion could not continue to be participated in by the timid, the honourable, or the humane; that none could endure the spirit of atrocity that had been roused into action but those who shared its influence; and that without this recommendation, it was not possible to escape the suspicion and dislike of those who had themselves abandoned all the ties of civilization: he had not contaminated his conscience by participating in any voluntary act of rebellion, and at length he found resolution to break the sanguinary and degrading trammel, and made his escape in 1644 from the supreme council.

We have entered at greater length than it was our design into the notice of this nobleman, and the events in which the fortunes of his family were unjustly implicated by Cromwell's government. We felt that the best justice of history is the fullest view it can give of the conduct and character of the person whose fame has been made subject to question. Lord Mayo died in 1649; but his son, Sir Tibbot, or Theobald, was, in a few years after, tried for his life upon a most flagrantly unjust and iniquitous charge of having been concerned in the massacre at Shrule. The whole course of this unfortunate young nobleman had been notoriously opposed to the rebellion; his loyalty had been manifested in every way, and nothing had occurred to cast the slightest stain upon his honour. Nevertheless, in 1652, when the parliament sent over its commissions of justice to avenge the crimes of a deluded and uncivilized peasantry, on those who were, for the most part, forced accessories, or unwilling spectators, and a stern and extreme justice was administered on no better grounds than suspicion; and when honourable gentlemen could be attainted by miscreants who had themselves borne their share in all the iniquities of that- hideous development of the baseness of human nature, then Sir Theobald Bourke, lord Mayo, for ten days stood his trial by a jury of undertakers, commissioned by a court of regicides. These gentlemen sentenced the unfortunate young lord to be shot—a merciful mode of execution—on the equitable principle, we presume, that he was known to be innocent. This equitable sentence, if so it was meant, was carried into execution, on the 15th of January, in Gal way It is mentioned by Lodge, that the soldiers appointed to shoot him, missed him three times; "but at last a corporal, blind of an eye, hit him." The eyes of his judges had been less single than those of his executioner: his property of fifty thousand acres was forfeited by his attainder, and that of his father, who was at the time dead. And his son was, by the charitable consideration of the government, on his petition sent to a free school in Dublin; and would probably, had his own spirit and the affection of his relations permitted, in course of time been apprenticed out to some handicraft. He was, however, in some time sent for by his mother's relations, and lived to be restored to his rank and paternal acres.

This branch of the Bourke family is, we believe, extinct. The title has been revived in another line of the same name and race.

Sir Kofcrt Iting•

DIED A. D. 1657.

The family of Sir Robert King is found in connexion with our history, in the reign of Elizabeth, when his father, Sir John King, was rewarded for his services in the reduction of the Dative septs, with a lease of the abbey of Boyle, in the county of Roscommon. After which he obtained several large grants in different parts of the country. He was at the same time possessed of an estate in England, in the immediate vicinity of Litchfield.

Sir Robert was knighted during his father's life, and held the office of muster-master-general, which his father, Sir John, had obtained in 1609, with a reversion to his son. In 1639 he represented Boyle in the Irish parliament.

When the troubles of 1641 began, he was appointed governor of Boyle castle, with an allowance for thirty-one protestant warders. He soon became conspicuous for his activity and military talent; and displayed a degree of skill, decision, and coolness, in the battle of Ballintobber, to which in a great measure the success of the president must be attributed. To explain the brilliant manoeuvre, which so justly won for him the honour of the day, it will be expedient to take wider ground, and state particulars which cannot be better introduced in any other memoir.

The rebellion of 1641 had spread into the county of Roscommon, and there brought on the same series of wasting campaigns on a petty scale, and of desultory skirmishes, sieges, and house-blockades, of which so much of our details are composed. The O'Conors, the descendants of that ancient and noble family, which gave so many princes to Connaught, and monarchs to Ireland, still continued to hold scanty remains of their ancestral territories; and being divided into three distinct, and mostly hostile branches, dwelt on their estate in the district extending between Strokestown, Rathcrohan, Roscommon, and Clonalis, (near Castlerea): of these the principal family was that of O'Conor Dhune, the elder and representative branch, to which in the lieutenancy of Perrot the estates had been regranted and formed into the barony of Ballintobber; while those of O'Conor Roe were similarly erected into that of Roscommon. Hugh O'Conor Dhune, had won the hostility of his countrymen, by siding with the English; and in 1590, was besieged in Ballintobber castle by Hugh Roe O'Donell. A cannon planted on the opposite hill made a breach in the wall, and the old chief seeing his danger surrendered at discretion. He was imprisoned by O'Donell, but after a few months, he was allowed to return home to the castle, where he died in 1632. His son, Callagh O'Conor, was of course compelled to take his part in 1642, and adhered to his countrymen and their cause. He collected a large force of two thousand foot, and two hundred horse, and with these ventured to take the field against the English. For some .time, however, he remained quiet in his quarters, discouraged it has been thought by the capture of his son,—but probably not the less inclined to resist the arms of the captors.

He was however soon incited to action by the miserable condition and consequent supineness of the English garrison, both few in numbers, and destitute of all necessary supplies. Notwithstanding these impediments, and the formidable array of Mayo men, which had poured themselves into Ballintobber, the president soon resolved to act on the offensive, and a council of English officers agreed upon a movement from Roscommon, toward that place. Drawing together all the men who (sick or well,) were in a condition to take the field, with the remains of two broken regiments, they marched out, and took their way over the hill of Oran, which is perhaps about three miles from Ballintobber. On gaining the height they espied the enemy coming on rapidly and in great numerical force. This appearance was highly adapted to dishearten men broken by illness, want, and fatigue; and the lord-president, calculating on the courage, eagerness, and numbers of the army who were rapidly diminishing the distance between them, was inclined to retreat. His officers were of a different opinion, and the spirit of the soldiers was roused by the prospect of battle. They were weary of a sickly and starved repose, and feeling the desire of action, and the cheerful self-reliance of brave men, were urgent to be led against the enemy: the president found his opposition overruled, and declaring himself free from any blame from the result, gave the desired permission.

The enemy were so near as to frustrate the plan of battle array proposed by the officers: they could neither gain the ground which they wished to occupy, nor could they manoeuvre very freely where they stood. The ground was a mixture of wet morass and heath, and the space between the armies small. The musketeers on the left of the English, and their main dependance for the attack, were prevented from firing down the hill on the approaching pikemen by the cavalry who were vet before them. To clear the way, captain King, on whose men, trained by himself, there was much reliance, was ordered to cross to the right, down the hill, along the narrow interval between both armies. Captain King had, among other dexterous and difficult manoeuvres, taught his troop one which was of the utmost nicety, and therefore demanded the greatest nerve and coolness to execute; he had now a remarkable occasion to try their execution. He saw at a glance that it would not be possible to pass clear of the approaching torrent of pikes, so as to gain their left flank; and directed his men what to do. The Irish were within a few feet of their left man, when, suddenly halting, with a slight inclination of their line towards the enemy, the troopers of Sir Robert delivered a close volley over their horses' manes, and along their own front. The English musketeers had also commenced a sharp fire as the horse clearing from their front disclosed the opposite rank.

Sir Robert's fire had however a decisive and peculiar effect. A shower of bullets, poured together within the compass of a few yards, made a breach in the enemies' rank, and slew such numbers in that part of the line, that they were then thrown into irretrievable confusion. Sir Robert saw the advantage he had anticipated, and instantly charged into the amazed and confounded pikemen, and completely broke the left of their battle.- They turned, and began to run, and the disorder spread up the hill. It was confirmed by a charge from Sir Edward Coote and colonel Povey. The flight was now so decided, that there was no further resistance to any of the numerous charges which were made. And the musketeers of the Irish, who had been outrun by the warlike eagerness of the pikemen, met these in their flight, and turned with them without having fired a shot. The pursuit was prompt, and the slaughter frightful. But the force of the lord-president was not equal to the furtherance of the advantage thus gained.

Soon after this, Sir Robert went to reside in London, and left his son in command at Boyle. In England he entered into the service of the parliament—on which, by the changes of events, it was easy to see that the cause of order and the present interest of the kingdom was dependant. He was soon employed in Ireland, and sent over with two others in 1645, as commissioners against the rebels.*

In 1647, he was one of the five appointed to receive the sword from the marquess of Ormonde. At this time he increased his estate, both by purchases and by lands taken in payment for arrears due for military service. From this too, we find his name occupying a prominent place in all commissions and trusts for the settlement and improvement of this country. He was one of the trustees for the university of Dublin. A trust into which we shall again more fully enter. And was also employed with the attorney-general in getting an inventory taken of the books of the herald's office, and such writings as it contained, and to secure them from official embezzlement.

To the year of his death he was employed in laborious and responsible charges, which appear to imply confidence in the talent and integrity of the person employed.

He died 1657, at his house in London.

Robert Billon, £cconO Earl of &o$commcm.

DIED A. D. 1612.

TtfE second earl of Roscommon was eminent for his zeal and fidelity in the troubled times of the rebellion of 1641. He was, in 1627, a privy counsellor, and from this date his name occupies a principal place in the several trusts and commissions, connected with the administration of government in this country. His personal influence is also largely indicated by the numerous privileges which he acquired in rapid succession: markets and fairs in several towns upon his ample property; grants of lands; and profitable licenses to sell wines and spirituous liquors, then commonly granted to persons of rank and property, though since confined to the tribe of publicans. In 1629 his lordship, then lord Dillon, and Michel, second son of lord Folliott, had a license "to keep taverns and sell all manner of wholesome wines, and to make and sell aqua vita? by retail or in gross in the town of Ballyshannon." We cannot find whether the ancient town of Ballyshannon was graced with the gilded showboard of Dillon, Folliott, & Co., but it is easy to see in this circumstance the effect of change in the constitution of the times. Trade was fettered by monopolies, too lucrative to the holder, to be given to any but persons of the highest influence.

On 26th May, 1638, lord Roscommon was made keeper of the seal during the absence of the lord-chancellor; and in the following year he was one of the lords-justices, until the arrival of the earl of Strafford. After the departure of Strafford and the death of his deputy, the king, having been dissuaded from his own inclination to appoint the earl of

* Lodge.

« PreviousContinue »