Page images

lish about him. On one occasion, a gentleman of the name of Crant, whose life appears to have been pursued with some inveteracy by his enemies, had taken refuge under the shelter of Castlecor. The noble lord was hardly pressed to give him up on various pretences, but refused to trust the assurances of those who sought him. He assured the most forward of these, that he would rather lose his own blood than betray any gentleman who fled to him for refuge. And shortly after, when it was necessary to remove the persecuted Crant, from Castlecor, his noble protector would not trust him to a guard, but himself escorted him to Dunsany castle.

Notwithstanding this manly and beneficent conduct, lord Dunsany presently became himself the object of a most cruel, oppressive, arbitrary, and unmerited severity. On the 20th February the king's proclamation was landed, ordering the submission of the Irish lords and gentry, and saving the privileges and immunities of those who should within a given time come in. With this proclamation in his pocket, lord Dunsany, who had in no way transgressed, and whose family had been uniformly among the foremost in adherence to the crown, amid the troubles of every period, came to Dublin and offered himself before the lords-justices; he asserted his innocence, his reputation for loyalty, and the great hazards he had incurred thereby. The justices sent him to prison, and ordered an indictment against him on a charge of high treason; and, to render the case more secure, they ordered that his trial should proceed in the inferior courts, which then admitted of A greater variety of obscure resources, and were less within the daylight of the public eye. The means of corrupting the administration of justice were also various, and employed without measure or remorse by the oflicial characters in the reigns of James and Charles: of this we have offered one flagrant case, and might have adduced enough to fill a volume, had such been our object. We here insert lord Dunsany's petition to the parliament, as containing a clear and authoritative account of these incidents of his life.

"To the right honourable the lords spiritual and temporal in parliament assembled. The humble petition of Patrick, lord baron of Dunsany. "Showing,

"That after the prorogation of the session of parliament, held in Dublin in 1641, your suppliant repaired home expecting a commission with others, to parley or treat with the northern Irish, then in rebellion; but no commission issuing, and the rebels with great power and strength ruining and overrunning the whole country, posted to this city and addressed himself to the late lords-justices, informing them of the condition of the country, and craved their advice and aid; was, nevertheless, commanded home again, upon his allegiance, without any aid or help, to defend himself the best he could; upon which your suppliant repaired to Dunsany and manned that house, which became the only sanctuary for the distressed English and his majesty's army in that part of Meath, which he yet had kept from the malice of the enemy; and having so done he parted thence, and took his wife and children with him unto his house at Castlecorre, adjoining to the Vol. ui. E

O'Renys' country, and there likewise manned and maintained said house against the rebels, until the beginning of March following, and in the time of his abode there, did preserve both the lives and goods of a great number of English protestants, their wives and children, and from thence conducted them unto this city, to the great hazard of his own life, as many of them now in this city will testify, and did openly, in all the time of his residence in that country, protest against the rebellion and the movers thereof, dissuading many that would have gone into action not to go, nor to adhere unto the actors, and being no longer able to live there, about the time aforesaid, parted thence, and sent his wife and family, with such of the English as staid with them, unto Dunsany, by night, himself having taken another way unto this city, to tender himself unto the then lords-justices, which he did the 8th of the said month, voluntarily to satisfy them of the condition he lived in, and to acquit himself of either having heart or hand in that action, or in any sort adhering to the actors, by delivering the threatening letters sent him by the rebels, that they would prosecute him as an enemy, with fire and sword, if he would not assist them by sending men and means to the siege of Drogheda; which, rather than he would do, did hazard his life, in travelling by night out of all roads, there being several ambushes laid for him; and for his loyalty, had his own daughter, and his son's wife (being both great with child) stripped and 6ent home naked; and his said house at Castlecorre, after his parting, with all his goods and furniture, to the value of four thousand pounds, burned and destroyed. And although your suppliant did so voluntarily tender himself, upon the assurance of his own innocency with a desire to serve his majesty, was notwithstanding committed to prison, and after indicted as a rebel, when as the king, out of his wonted clemency, had published, in January before, under his royal hand and privy signet, a proclamation of grace to all that would lay down arms, and submit unto his mercy; of which your suppliant at the worst was most capable (of any,) in regard he was the first that tendered himeelf to his highness' service, and never took up arms against him, nor offended any, but relieved all that came in his way; and, after enduring eighteen months' imprisonment, his whole estate (except Dunsany) being destroyed by the rebels, was, by order of his majesty, among others, released, but was, though without order from his highness, bound over unto the king's bench, it being no proper court for his trial, and as yet standeth bound to appear there in Michaelmas term next, and so will be perpetually bound over in that kind, unless this honourable house takes some order for his relief. And for as much as your suppliant, being a member of this house, to have suffered in this kind, without your orders or privity, he conceiveth the same to be a great breach of the privileges of the house.

"And therefore humbly imploreth your honourable aid, and favour herein, by presenting his sufferings unto the lord-lieutenant general of this kingdom, and in the mean time, to admit him his place and vote in the house.

"And he will pray," &c

The parliament was prorogued on the same day that this petition was presented. And he obtained no redress till the restoration. A provision was then inserted in the act of explanation, by which the commissioners for the execution of that act, were directed to restore to his lordship his seat, and one third of the whole estate of which he had been possessed on the 22d October, 1641. This lord died in his 80th year, in 1668.

Hetitia, JJaronew ©p!)alj>.

Died A. D. 1658.

We have already in our notice of Sir Charles Coote, had occasion to mention a remarkable instance of firmness and courage in the conduct of this illustrious Irishwoman. We did not then wish to digress to a sufficient extent, to insert the whole correspondence which occurred between her ladyship and her besiegers. It is no less illustrative of the time in which she lived than of her personal character, and may be advantageously read by any one who desires thoroughly to view the events and the social state of Ireland, in a period in some respects unlike that in which we live.

This baroness was granddaughter to Gerald, eleventh earl of Kildare, and only daughter of Gerard his eldest son, who died before his father. She was created baroness Ophaly, and was heir general to the house of Kildare, and inherited the barony of Geashill. She married Sir Robert Digby of Coleshill, in the county of Warwick. Sir Robert died in 1618, leaving the baroness a widow with seven children.

With this family her ladyship lived in the castle of Geashill, in honour and respect with her neighbours and dependants, and like many noble and virtuous ladies who only require the occasion of circumstance to render them illustrious by the display of those high and generous virtues with which the Creator has so liberally endowed the gentler and purer sex, performing in contented privacy the duties of mother to her children, and of a kind and considerate mistress of her household and tenantry, until 1641, when the country fell into that disordered state, in which goodness and gentleness could be no protection. But the daughter and heiress of the Geraldines was also the inheritress of the fearless spirit of her race, and when the rudeness of that most degrading period suggested the hope of finding an easy prey in the feebleness of an unprotected lady, her brutal assailants met with a resistance worthy of commemoration in the record of history.

Geashill had in earlier times belonged to the O'Dempsies; and we find the name of four Dempsies among those who subscribed to the summons which the baroness first received from the rebels. On this occasion, Henry Dempsey, brother to the lord Clanmalier, with others of the same family, opened their proceedings with the following paper, of which the intent demands no explanation.

"We, his majesty's loyal subjects, at the present employed in his highness's service, for the sacking of your castle, you are therefore to deliver unto us the free possession of your said castle, promising faithfully that your ladyship, together with the rest within your said castle resiant, shall have a reasonable composition; otherwise, upon the nonyielding of the castle, we do assure you that we will burn the whole town, kill all the Protestants, and spare neither man, woman, nor child, upon taking the castle by compulsion. Consider, madam, of this our offer, impute not the blame of your own folly unto us. Think not that here we brag. Your ladyship, upon submission, shall have safe convoy to secure you from the hands of your enemies, and to lead you whither you please. A speedy reply is desired with all expedition, and then we surcease.

"Henry Dempsie; Charles Dempsie; Andrew Fitz-Patrick; Conn Dempsie: Phelim Dempsie; James SlacDonnell; John Vickars."

To this summons, she returned this answer:—"I received your letter, wherein you threaten to sack this my castle by his majesty's authority. I have ever been a loyal subject, and a good neighbour among you, and therefore cannot but wonder at such an assault. I thank you for your offer of a convoy, wherein I hold little safety; and therefore my resolution is, that being free from offending his majesty, or doing wrong to any of you, I will live and die innocently, I will do the best to defend my own, leaving the issue to God; and though I have been, I still am desirous to avoid the shedding of Christian blood, yet being provoked, your threats shall no whit dismay me."

"After two months," (writes Archdall) "the lord viscount Clanmalier brought a great piece of ordnance (to the making of which, as it was credibly reported, there went seven score pots and pans, which was cast three times by an Irishman from Athboy, before they brought it to that perfection, in which it was at Geashill), and sent another summons to her ladyship in these words:—

"Noble Madam, It was never my intention to offer you any injury, before you were pleased to begin with me, for it is well known, if I were so disposed, you had not been by this time at Geashill; so as I find you are not sensible of the courtesies I have always expressed unto you, since the beginning of this commotion; however, I did not thirst for revenge, but out of my loving and wonted respects still towards you, I am pleased and desirous to give you fair quarter, if you please to accept thereof, both for yourself, children, and grandchildren, and likewise for your goods; and I will undertake to send a safe convoy with you and them either to Dublin, or to any other of the next adjoining garrisons, either of which to be at your own election; and if you be not pleased to accept of this offer, I hope you will not impute the blame unto me, if you be not fairly dealt withal, for I expect to have the command of your house before I stir from hence; and if you please to send any of your gentlemen of your house to me, I am desirous to confer thereof at large. And so expecting youi speedy answer, I rest your loving cousin,

"Lewis Glanmai.eroe.

"P. S. Madam, there are other gentlemen now in this town, whose names are hereunto subscribed, who do join and unite themselves in mine offer unto you,

"Lewis Glanmaleroe, Art O'Molloy, Henry Dempsle, Edward Connor, Charles Connor, Daniel Doyne, John Mac William."

To this letter, lady Ophaly sent the following answer:—

"My Lord,—I little expected snch a salute from a kinsman, whom I have ever respected, you being not ignorant of the great damages I have received from your followers of Glenmaleroe, so as you can't but know in your own conscience, that I am innocent of doing you any injury, unless you count it an injury for my people to bring back a small quantity of mine own goods where they found them, and with them, some others of such men as have done me all the injury they can devise, as may appear by their own letter. I was offered a convoy by those that formerly besieged me, I hope you have more honour than to follow their example, by seeking her ruin that never wronged you. However, I am still of the same mind, and can think no place safer than my own house, wherein if I perish by your means, the guilt will light on you, and I doubt not but I shall receive a crown of martyrdom dying innocently. God, I trust, will take a poor widow into his protection from all those which without cause are risen up against me,

"Your poor kinswoman,

"Lettice Ophaxey.

"P. S. If the conference you desire do but concern the contents of this letter, I think this answer will give you full satisfaction, and I hope you will withdraw your hand, and show your power in more noble actions."

After his lordship had received this answer, he discharged his piece of ordnance against the castle, which at the first shot broke and flew in pieces; but his men continued with their muskets and other arms to fire until the evening, when they took away the broken piece of ordnance, and marched off in the night; but before their departure, his lordship sent the following letter thus directed:—

"To my noble cousin, the Lady Lettice, Baronett of Ophaley.


"I received your letter, and am still tender of your good and welfare, though you give no credit thereunto; and whereas, you do understand by relation, that my piece of ordnance did not prosper, I believe you will be sensible of the hazard and loss you are like to sustain thereby, unless you will be better advised to accept the kind offer which I mentioned in my letter unto you in the morning; if not, expect no further favour at my hands, and so I rest your ladyship's loving cousin,

"lewis Glaxmaxeroe."

To which my lady returned answer by one of her own men who was kept prisoner.

"Mr Lord,

"Your second summons I have received, and should be glad to find you tender of my good; for your piece of ordnance I never disputed

« PreviousContinue »