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False reports of a conspiracy among the Irish considered.
The effects of these reports. BUT the commons, not satisfied even with these advantages, in order to have some colourable pretext for the injustice intended, resolved to render the party to be injured as odious as possible. For this purpose they left no means unattempted, however a wicked or absurd, to countenance and diffuse the calumny, lately raised by their emiffaries, as if the Irish had actually entered into a real conspiracy. They' had with great industry, called before them several witnesses to prove that the papists were sometimes seen attending divine service in their own way, and that considerable numbers of people were gathered together on such occasions ; that a cutler's apprentice had new furbished an old sword for one of them; and that another was detected buying a horse for his necessary occasions. Such proofs of a conspiracy, says Mr. Carte, might have appeared good and sufficient to the two new earls, but did not satisfy Sir Maurice Eustace, and a few others. Recourse was, therefore, had to an old expedient for realizing imaginary plots, which had been formerly found successful.? A letter fupposed to have been written by one Irish priest to another, upon
a “ The enemies and competitors of the Irish,” says Dr. Leland on this occasion, “ were indefatigable in endeavouring to load their whole party with the guilt of new conspiracies; and even manifest forgeries were received as solid proofs.” Hift. of Irel. vol. iii. p. 426.
b “ All the foundation (fays Mr. Carte) for this insinuation was, that there had been of late, meetings of the poor Irish at masses, in order to partake of a jubilee, which the pope
had sent them ; but the whole kingdom knew that they were in no condition to rebel.” Orm. vol. ii. f. 231.
somewhat that was deemed treasonable, because dark and unintelligible, was somewhere found and laid before the parliament, by one Jephson, a member ; who, with several other members, was himself, about two years after, convicted of a real conspiracy against the government and executed for the same. In consequence of this pretended discovery, a proclamation was issued, and executed with great rigour, by which all artificers and shopkeepers, who had been left in their habitations by the usurpers, at the time of the transplantation, were now banished from Kilkenny, and other great towns. Horses and arms, being no where else to be found, were fought for in trunks and cabinets; and silver cups were defined to be chalices. The letter above-mentioned was transmitted into England with a representation of the infolence of the papists, for whose suppression, in order to prevent the threatened danger, his majesty's directions were desired.”
“ Buts Chancellor Eustace suspected the injustice, as well as design, of this charge against the Irish; and to discover what ground there was for it, he directed the judges in their circuits to cause the matter to be enquired into by the grand juries of the several coun
3 Com. Journ. vol. ii. f. 337
4 Cart. Orm. vol. ii.
s Id. ib. f. 231.
• He represented the borough of Trim in the county of Meath. Com. Jour. vol. ii. f. 337. The following members, “ Robert Shapcote, John Chambers, Thomas Boyd, Alexander Staples, Abel Warren, John Ruxton, and Thomas Scot, Efqrs. were voted, nem. contradic.” for having been engaged in this plot, “ to be expelled the house, and made incapable of ever fitting in future parliaments ; and that the said expelled members be left to the courts of justice to be further proceeded against.” Id. ib. f. 347. The charge of the house of commons against these men was, “ that they were engaged in a late wicked and horrid plot, to have surprized his majesty's castle of Dublin, to have seized on the person of his grace James Duke of Ormond, and to have involved the three kingdoms in blood.” Ib. f. 350. The above expelled members were also made“ incapable of exercising any employment civil, military, or ecclesiastical within the kingdom.” Ib. f. 354.
ties, through which they passed. The finding of these juries
was alike every where; there being a great calm in all places ; no preparations for a rising, nor so much as a rumour of any new troubles. Nothing could be more frivolous, and void of proof, than the
paper which the commons drew up on this occasion, and presented to the lords justices; who yet thought fit to send it, inclosed in their letters, to Secretary Nicholas, signifying at the same time their opinion, that it would be destructive to the English interest, to admit the Irish to trade and settle in corporate towns; or to allow the Roman catholic lawyers to practise in their profession; both which, however, had been positively allowed by his majesty's letters.”
The parties principally suspected of this conspiracy, vo
luntarily appear before the lords justices, in order to detect the forgery.
THE imputation of a conspiracy' was matter of great apprehension to the whole body of the Irish Roman Catholics ; all their fortunes depending on the pleasure of his majesty, who was likely to be estranged from them, by unjust representations of their dispositions and designs. Wherefore the ordinary was prevailed upon to send for the two priests, whose names were in the letter;and the Earl of Fingall waited
upon the lords justices, to desire a protection with regard to their function, but not to extend to the letter, or any other crime with which they might be charged. But the lords justices would not grant such a protection; and some of the council told Lord Fingall, that they were no friends to the king, who made any objections, or took measures to prove it a forged letter. Dermott, however, the supposed writer of this letter, came to
Dublin; as did Phelan, the other priest, to whom it was directed. Soon after the former presented a petition to the council, complaining of the injury done him, by this imposture, desiring leave, notwithstanding his function, to appear before them, to justify his innocence, being ready to suffer any punishment, if he should be found criminal as to that letter, or any thing else that might tend to sedition, and the disturbance of his majesty's government. After a long examination, he was committed to the custody of an officer ; and the next day Phelan appearing, Mr. Belling went with him to the council, who having examined him, committed him in the like manner, upon his denying he had ever received any such letter.”
“ It was very improbable, continues Mr. Carte,+ that the Irish should, at a time when their all depended on the king's good-will to them, be forming against him designs of an insurrection, which, if they were never so unfaithful, they were in no condition to execute."
Loyalty of the catholic nobility and gentry of Ireland
at this juncture. On account of a severe persecution at this time raifed against them, and in hopes of removing all future pretence for the same, the catholics of Ireland, having agreed upon a remonstrance and protestation of their loyalty, which was couched in the strongest and most explicit terms, fent it by the Earl of Fingall to Mr. Walsh, an Irish Franciscan, then at London, who
3 Cart. Orm. vol. ii.
* « This religious,” says Mr. Carte, “had always been very cordial and sincere in all his professions and zeal for the Duke of Ormond's service. And his grace having the post of sene
was an humble confident of the Duke of Ormond : by whom it was immediately presented to his majesty, and most graciously received.
Walsh having soon after come to Ireland, in order to get this remonstrance signed by all the Roman catholic clergy, nobility and gentry of the kingdom (as many of them as were at London, when it was presented, having signed it there) succeeded so well, as to obtain, in a short time, the signatures a “ of fixty-nine of the clergy, secular and regular ; five earls, six viscounts, two barons, twenty-four colonels and baronets, and fixty esquires and gentlemen.”
schal or steward to the bishop of Winchester (it being usually given, in antient times, to some of the most powerful of the nobility, who were thereby engaged in the protection of the See) by a patent from bishop Morley, with the fee of one hun. dred pounds a year, had settled it upon him for his fubsistence.
This was all Walsh had to live on. He received it duly, and enjoyed it till his death, which happened a little before the Duke of Ormond's.” Orm. vol. ii. f. 548. The same historian informs us, " that Walsh having urged his grace to turn Roman cathos lic towards the latter part of his life, the duke told him, among other things, “ that he wondered, if the condition wherein he was appeared fo dangerous to him, why so good a friend did not admonish him sooner thereof." “ Walsh soon faw there was no good to be done, and did not venture on a second attempt." Ib.
The following passage from Lord Castlehaven, further illustrates this Irish friar's character. His lordship, after having told us,
" that he had received a long letter by a trumpet from Ireton, setting forth the great value he had for his person, and offering him, if he would retire from the king's service and live in England privately, he should not only enjoy his estate, but remain in safety with the esteem and favour of the parliament;" adds, “ I immediately shewed this letter to Father Peter Walsh, my then ghostly father, whom I had always found faithful to the king, and a lover of his country. With his advice, by the same trumpet, I answered all his points, and rejected his proposition concerning my own person ; defiring him withal to send no more trumpets with such errands, if perhaps, he would not have the messenger ill treated. From this time, there was an end of all messages, and letters between us." Memoirs, p. 127.