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ftolim Stofoart, of Errg.
DIED A. D. 1662.
In the previous notice it has been shown, that a branch of the Stewart family which bore in Scotland the titles of Avondale and Ochiltree, had been advanced in Ireland, to the title of baron Castlestewart, of the county of Tyrone.
Robert Stewart of Irry, was brother to the fifth lord Castlestewart, and was highly distinguished among the numerous brave men, whom a stirring time has brought into historic notice. We do not think ourselves quite warranted to bring forward a full detail of the various exploits belonging to other memoirs, in which he bore an honourable part. He relieved Dungannon fort, and that of Mountjoy, when at the point of surrender to the rebels; and, attacking the besiegers with a very inferior force, compelled them to decamp into the fastnesses of Slievegallen and Altadesert. He next maintained possession of the two forts of Zoome and Antrim, of which he was governor, till the coming of Cromwell, when resistance became useless and impossible. He died in 1662, leaving one son, in whom the line was continued under the following circumstances:—The fifth lord died unmarried, and the title reverted to his uncle, who, having lived to a very old age, died without issue, when the next claimant to the title was Andrew, the grandson of Robert here noticed. He was at the time of his uncle's death but 12 years of age, and was removed to Scotland by his mother, during the war of the revolution. To him the title devolved, but he did not (as afterwards appeared) claim it, as the family estate had been "taken away by the lady Suffolk."* For the same reason his son did not think fit to claim a title to which they were quite aware of their right. And so the matter slept till 1774, when a petition from Andrew Thomas Stewart brought forward the claim, which was decided in his favour.
&iri)ar& asutler, €f)lr& ITtecount iWountgarm.
BoKN A. D. 1578. DIED A. D. 1651.
The third viscount Mountgarret, having married a daughter of Hugh, earl of Tyrone, was early led into connexions, of which in those times, rebellion was almost the sure consequence. Lord Mountgarret was an active adherent to his father-in-law, and took arms in his behalf, at the early age of twenty-one. In the reign of Elizabeth, when Ireland had been but recently brought into even a comparative subjection, and the authority of the crown was but imperfectly defined, rebellion was yet looked upon with indulgence by the crown. The will of the sovereign stood in place of the even and irrespective execution of law,
• Andrew, uncle to Robert of Irry, and third baron, having a daughter, his only child, conveyed his estate to her husband, the earl of Suffolk.—Lodgt and Burke.
and the award of policy or vindictive feeling was lenient or severe, according to the circumstances of the case. Chiefs who had not laid aside the pretensions of kings, and who had the power of maintaining these pretensions to a troublesome extent, were looked on with indulgence: their gratitude conciliated, their turbulence overlooked, and their outhreaks controlled and pardoned. Thus it was, that in the latter end of the sixteenth century, great rebellions, which covered the land with blood and fear, passed away without effecting those forfeitures of life and land, which so soon after became their certain consequence. Much indeed, as the historian may feel at the passing away of illustrious families of ancient time—his sense of expediency and justice must tell him, that the peace of society and the vindication of the law by which order subsists, is more important still; and in looking upon the operation of a system of civilizing change, essential to the future, but attended with immediate disadvantage to a few, he cannot without an abandonment of every true social principle, wish it had been otherwise. The institution of just and equal law, on the one only principle upon which human caprice, the errors of uncertain policy, and the fierce and constant workings of those latent springs of disorder by which every class is pervaded can be controlled, must ever depend on the certainty, that the law cannot be violated without the forfeiture of those rights of which it is the security.
During the long life of the lord Mountgarret, the state of Ireland was widely changed. The laws of England had been established to the full extent that such a step was practicable. Their administration necessarily subject to great abuses, was yet productive of vast amelioration in the condition of the people. Had they been much sooner enforced, the consequences must have fallen with lamentable severity upon the aristocracy of the land, as their full operation must have visited with extreme penalties, a large class who had attained to imperfect notions of the difference between right and wrong. But from the rebellion of Tyrone, the mind of the Irish aristocracy had rapidly expanded, and the various letters and documents of the Irish nobles of every class, exhibit no deficiency in the constitutional knowledge of the age. Ireland had made a step in advance, which does not seem to have ever been thoroughly appreciated.
The rebellion of Tyrone, did not with all its bloodshed and widespread devastation, materially alter the condition of men, who for their private ends, had caused the death of thousands, and overwhelmed the country with waste and famine. In 1599, we find the lord Mountgarret a lord of the pale, defending the castles of Ballyragget and Coleshill against the queen's forces, and in 1605, he receives the special livery of his estates, as if he had been in the meantime a student at the temple, or serving under Carew or Mountjoy. From this his name is for some years lost in general history, but being a person of active habits, he was probably making himself useful in preserving order, and introducing improvement in his own immediate vicinity. In the parliaments of 1613 and 1615, his conduct was prudent, and attracted the approbation of king James. This seems confirmed by the fact, that in 1619, he had in consideration of loyal services, a confirmation of all his estates, with the creation of several manors, and various lucrative and valuable privileges.*
On the commencement of the rebellion in 1641, he was joined in commission with the earl of Ormonde, for the government of the county of Kilkenny, and upon the earl's removal to Dublin, the county was entirely committed to his charge.
A rumour had however been sedulously propagated, that the government entertained designs hostile to the Ho man catholic lords of the pale. This inauspicious rumour, was diffused by the agents of the leading persons and parties, who were at the time engaged in maturing the outbreak which so soon followed: it was loudly affirmed by Moore and his associates, and much favoured by the suspicious conduct of the lords-justices. A concurrence of untoward circumstances originated, and kept up a misunderstanding, which every word and act on either side confirmed. The aristocracy of Munster and the Roman catholic lords of the pale, equally fearful of the popular leaders and distrustful of the government, beset with surrounding dangers from revolutionary conspirators, a plundering and lawless populace, and a circumventing and iniquitous administration, quickly perceived that their safety must depend upon their strength; it was quite apparent that to sit at ease as indifferent spectators would not be permitted by either party. Accordingly, these noblemen, early on the appearance of rebellious indications, offered their services ; and among others, lord Mountgarret offered to raise a thousand men, to arm them at his own expense, and command them against the rebels. The offer was not accepted; the lords-justices in their terror, ignorance, and in the narrowness of their bigoted policy distrusted these noblemen, and the consequence of their distrust was that they would neither employ them against the common danger, nor allow them to protect themselves, but acted towards them with an arbitrary and inconsiderate exertion of authority, which conveyed insult, and seemed to menace danger. Having first put arms into their hands for the defence of their families and the pale, they next recalled those arms, and summoned them to appear at the castle. These lords had powerful inducements to draw them into rebellion, and were strongly urged to that perilous course by the nature of their connexions. Nevertheless, with the more than doubtful exception of lord Mayo, they had kept apart from every overt manifestation of a disaffected character, and strenuously asserted their adherence to the king and the government, until it became too evident that the only proof they could give of their loyalty, was to stand unprotected between two hostile powers. To be the first victims of rebellion, or be received on the doubtful footing of distrust by a government, of which the previous conduct had been such as to prove they were not themselves to be trusted. To give effect to these circumstances, rumours were in active circulation on both sides. Among those who were impressed with the notion that it was the design of government to extirpate the Roman catholics, lord Mountgarret was one; he has himself furnished an exposition of his own motives, we here extract it with some corroborative
* Lodge, iv. p. 52.
statements from Archdall. The letter to the carl of Ormonde runs thus:—
"My lord Since I have been forced in this general cause by
the example of some, as innocent and free from infringing of his majesty's laws as myself, who have been used in the nature of traitors, I forbore for avoiding your displeasure, to acquaint you with my proceedings and other motives therein: but now, for fear of being mistaken by the state concerning my loyalty, and presuming of your lordship's favour and good meaning towards me, I make bold to send you here enclosed, an exact remonstrance of those principal grievances that have procured this general commotion in this kingdom; wherewith I shall humbly desire your lordship to acquaint the lord-justice and council, to the end they may by a fair redress of them, prevent the fearful calamities that doubtless shall ensue for want thereof. It is not my case alone, it is the case of the whole kingdom; and it hath been a principal observation of the best historian, that a whole nation how contemptible soever, should not be incensed by any prince or state, how powerful soever, as to be driven to take desperate courses, the event whereof is uncertain, and rests only in the all-guiding power of the Omnipotent. This has been most lively represented by the French chronicler, Philip de Comines, in the passage between the duke of Burgundy and the Switzers. I will not press this matter further, (a word is enough to the intelligent,) and I cannot harbour any thought of your lordship, but that you are sensible of the miseries of this kingdom, whereof you are a native, and do wish the quiet and tranquillity thereof: I do, for a further expression of my own sincerity in this cause, send your lordship here enclosed my declaration and oath, joined with others, which I conceive to be tolerable, and no way inclining to the violation of his majesty's laws, whereof I am and always will be very observant, as becomes a loyal subject, and "My lord,
"Your lordship's humble servant,
"25th March, 1642."
To this letter of lord Mountgarret's, we add Archdall's comment:— "In confirmation hereof, it appears from the deposition of William. Parkinson of Castlecomer, Esq., that so little was his lordship's inclination to take up arms against his majesty, that Walter Butler of Poolestown, Walter Bagenal of Dunleckney, and Robert Shee of Kilkenny, Esq., were the chief instruments that made him do so; and so high was the insolence of those rebels grown, that the deponent had read a petition of one Richard Archdeane, captain of the Irish town of Kilkenny, and the alderman of the city, directed to the lord Mountgarret and his council, desiring (among other things,) that Philip Parcell of Ballyfoile, Esq., his lordship's son-in-law, might be punished for relieving the protestants. Also, the titular bishop of Cashel, Tirlogh Oge O'Neile, brother to the arch rebel Sir Phelim, and the popish citizens of Kilkenny, petitioned the rest of the council of Kilkenny, that all the English protestants there should be put to death; whereunto Richard Lawless in excuse answered, that they were
all robbed before, and he saw no cause that they should lose their lives; and at divers other times, where it was pressed that the English should be put to death, the lord Mountgarret with his son Edmund, and his son-in-law Parcell, by their strength, means, and persuasions, prevented it."
Having made this representation, which we believe truly to represent the case of the Roman catholic lords of the pale, Mountgarret advanced with a large train of his connexions, and of the gentry of the county, and seized on the city of Kilkenny, where he publicly declared the motives of his conduct. He then issued a public proclamation, commanding his followers to respect the life and property of the English inhabitants. By his influence and personal vigilance, he gave effect to this order, and prevented the commission of those crimes which it must have demanded much authority and watchfulness to repress.
It is now quite apparent that though such a distinction could not then have been noticed, and though it did not practically appear for a long time after, that this rebellion was composed of two parties distinct in their character, principles, and motives, though combined by a common direction and common hostility to the Irish government. The native chiefs and their immediate party, whose aim was as we have fully explained to recover the lands and power of their ancestors, revenge injuries real or supposed, and root out the English name, authority and religion; at the head of these was Sir Phelim O'Neile. And secondly, the Roman catholic nobles, of whose motives Mountgarret may be here offered as the representative. These parties are not more distinguishable by their characters and declared motives, than by their entire conduct. The party of Sir Phelim, unconstrained by any principle but the passions which led or drove them from crime to crime, were formidable for their butcheries of the unarmed; their exploits in the field were few and doubtful, and a few regular soldiers never failed to overmatch their utmost numbers. On the other hand, the war assumed a military character under the command of Mountgarret, Castlehaven, and other lords of their party, presenting a formidable front, fighting desperate battles in the field, and abstaining from butcheries and massacres, perfidious stratagems and treasons under the pretext of every falsehood. So determined was lord Mountgarret for the prevention of crime, that finding it difficult to impress the people with any sense of respect for property, he showed an effective example by shooting Mr Richard Cantwell, a gentleman of great influence, and a friend of his own family, when he saw him joining in plunder. Such in the beginning is the traceable division in this long rebellion, which, as it proceeded through many desolating years, split into so many armed and mutually hostile parties.
Having seized Kilkenny, lord Mountgarret sent out his parties to secure other towns in the surrounding country; and in one week, he was master of nearly all the towns of Kilkenny, Waterford, and Tipperary. Waterford submitted to his son Edmond Roe Butler; this city had shut its gates a month before against the Wexford rebels; Butler was received with willingness. No violence was here committed on life or goods, no one was disturbed; several protcstants