Page images
PDF
EPUB

leave. When a great captain desired to obtain possession of a poor mam's freehold on the marches, and the tenant refused to part with his property, the captain withdrew his protection, and allowed the unfortunate recusant to be robbed and destroyed by the Irish borderers.” Out of this practice grew the great abuse of annual tenures, with all their train of consequences. “The “lords of land and freeholders,” says Spenser, “do not “ there use to set out their land in farm or for term of “ years to their tenants, but only from year to year, and some during pleasure; neither indeed will the Irish tenant or husbandman otherwise take his land than SQ long as he list himself. The reason hereof in the tenant is, for that the landlords there use most shamefully to rack their tenants, laying upon them coigny and livery at pleasure, and exacting of them, besides “ his covenants, what he pleaseth.”+ With the effects of this on the general conditon of the country, I need not trouble my readers. Such was the general state of Ireland during the early period of the Tudors. When Henry VIII. ascended the throne, the English Pale had been greatly diminished. Its limits had receded from year to year, until in reality it had ceased to extend beyond half the county of Louth, half the county of Meath, half the county of Dublin, and half the county of Kildare. : Beyond these narrow boundaries the

* See the Report of the Commissioners, in 1537, of which an abstract is given in State Papers, II. 511. See also Carew Papers, I. 339, sq.

f State of Ireland, p. 528.

f State Papers, II. 9. The following passage in the Carew Papers, Vol. I. p. 7. is worth notice :—“The four shires here which should obey “ the King's laws, called Meath, Louth, Dublin, and Kildare, the foresaid “abominable order of coyne and livery was begun in them above 50 years

regal authority was neither acknowledged nor regarded. Within them the condition of the people was worse, if possible, than of those without it. Deputies, judges, officers, and clerks were as numerous and as exacting “as “ when all the land for the more part were subject to the “ law.” The English, oppressed as much by their own government as by the native Irish, had rapidly diminished in numbers, or had melted away into the Irish population, adopting their language, manners, and dress, and even their names. “Unless your Grace,” says Surrey to Henry VIII.,” “send inhabitants of your own natural sub“jects to inhabit such countries as shall be won, all your “ charges should be but wastefully spent.”f More than five and twenty years after, Chief Justice Luttrell complains that “English husbandmen, labourers, servants at hus“bandry daily, for the eschewing the oppression of coyne

“ by Thomas Earl of Desmond, son to the aforesaid James [Earl of Des“mond]; and he was then the King's Deputy ; for the which order and “precedent he was put to execution. And then the said order shortly “began and [was] renewed within these 30 years; coyne and livery, and “carting, carriages, journeys, and other impositions, far hostings and “journeys, and wilful war began since that time. The Deputies' wives “go to cuddies, and put coyne and livery in all places at their pleasure, “ and do stir great war, that now, by the foresaid extort means and precedents, all the King's subjects of the said four shires be near hand “Irish, and wear their habits and use their tongue, so as they are clean “gone and decayed; and there is not eight of the lords, knights, esquires, “ and gentlemen of the four shires but be in debt, and their land be made ‘ waste; and without brief remedy be had they must sell their lands, or “ else depart them, and go to some other land.” This was written in 1515.

[ocr errors]

* 30 June 1521.

f One of the causes of this degeneracy of the English settlers, as pointed out by Chief Justice Luttrell, will surprise my readers. He desires an order shall be given that no Irish beggars, rhymers, pipers, and the like “shall be suffered to come amongst the Englishmen ; for by their gifts “ and minstrelsy they provoketh the people to an Irish order.” Englishmen have not in general been thought to be so susceptible to the influence of music. (State Papers, II, 508.)

–––––.

“ and livery, and some, after they have lost their goods by “ the occasion thereof and by spoils and robberies, goeth ‘ daily into England, and never after returneth, and in * their steads none can be had but Irish.” In the four great provinces the O’Neils, the McMoroughs or Cavanaghs, the Desmonds, the Ormonds, and the O'Connors fought out their interminable feuds without the slightest regard to English law, or the least anticipation of English interference. (1520.) Gerald Earl of Kildare, who had succeeded his father as Lord Deputy in 1513, contrived still further to extend the influence of his family; and the Geraldines, supported by the Deputy's authority, became omnipotent in the south, much to the envy of their opponents, the Butlers. Unfortunately, for this period of Irish history authentic materials are extremely scanty, and it is not possible to ascertain with precise accuracy either the course of Kildare's government, or the causes which led to his disgrace. In 1520, the Earl was brought before Wolsey and the Council “ as touching the seditious practices, conspiracies, and “ subtle drifts” of himself, “his servants, aiders, and assisters.” His examination had been deferred in consequence of the preparations for an interview then pending between Henry VIII. and Charles W. in the summer of 1520, and Wolsey had “no convenient leisure hitherto ” to give his attention to the subject. Who were his accusers, upon what evidence Kildare was charged with neglecting his duty as alleged, and with disturbing the peace of Ireland, we have no information. On Kildare's recall, the Earl of Surrey, son of the Duke of Norfolk, was appointed as Deputy, Surrey's appointment could not be looked upon without satisfaction by the house of Ormond,

[ocr errors]

* State Papers, II. 509.

with whom he was connected by the ties of marriage. Throughout his administration he received the support of the Butlers.” To the prejudice of the cause of Kildare he did not scruple to avow his conviction that English and Irish were alike afraid that, if Kildare was allowed to return, the land would be in greater trouble than ever.f The only enemy of importance with whom Surrey had to do battle was the great O'Neil, who apparently submitted; and Surrey could report, though somewhat prematurely, that the land was in as good peace as it had been for many years. But Surrey was soon tired of a dignity, which was attractive to those only who had never tried it, and of a task which appeared no sooner to be drawing to a favourable termination than fresh and greater troubles sprang up to retard it. Sick and tired of command, sore vexed in mind as well as in body, the Earl begged earnestly to be recalled. He was glad to purchase peace at any price with enemies, whom no treaties could bind, no conquest could dismay.f Short as was the Earl's administration, he left office not without the lasting good will and gratitude of the Irish. The author of “the Book of Howth '' is loud in the Earl’s praises.S He says:— “The King, thinking the realm of Ireland expedient to have a wise, circumspect, prudent, valiant, and a stalworthy gentleman to

* See S.P. II. 49, 50 ; see also p. 89.

f It was during his administration that the proposition was set on foot, in the autumn of 1520, for contracting a marriage between Lord James Butler, Ormond's son, then residing with Wolsey, and Sir Thomas Boleyn's daughter, i.e., Ann Boleyn. (State Papers, II, p. 50.)

f S.P. II. 85, where it is stated by Stile that no longer dependence could be put upon the revolted Irish, “than that they do see their ad“vantage, or else that they be pleased with great rewards, in like “manner as that they have been since my Lord Lieutenant's coming “ hither.” 19 October 1521.

§ Carew MS. 623, f. 116.

have the charge and government of the realm of Ireland, did choose out among other the nobility of England the Earl of Surrey, son to the Duke of Norfolk; which sent him over into Ireland to be the Lord Lieutenant, and sent with him over certain of the guard to attend upon his person, as undoubtedly worthy he was. In his time the realm was brought to such civility, the like was not a long time afore; by reason whereof all the nobles of the Irish was content and did agree that all such orders which the said Earl did prescribe by indenture to them they would observe and keep to the uttermost of their power; which things themselves did confess a long time after, which they said themselves they were willing to observe. This Earl of Surrey, by reason of some that was desirous of estimation inform the said Earl that Sir Nicholas Lord of Howth was not such as in the Council meet was to be allowed ; meaning thereby, in case he were of the Council, things should not come to that end as their desired purpose was looked for; affirming more that the said Lord was so affectioned to the Earl of Kildare that nothing seemed right or indifferent to him, but that soundeth only the honour of the said Earl of Kildare, and also he being a judge or counsellor, the Earl his side was to be preferred rather than he which did complain; for which cause the Earl of Surrey dismissed the said Lord of Howth for a time. And also they did affirm, that he was so stout and wise withal, that few or none that then was in the Council could or would say anything contrary to that he had once determined. This was spoken by the Lord of Tremletstoune, the Barnwells, and the Prestons, which then bare no goodwill to the Geraldines. “A time after, the Earl of Surrey, understanding those sayings aforesaid to be but a dissimulation or craft invented for a set purpose for displeasure that they bare against the Earl of Kildare, called the Lord of Howth, and declared to him those that was cause of his dismissing from the Council, and so placed him as one above all other worthy to be of the King's Privy Council; and so continued to his end. “This Earl of Surrey was so just a judge, that no man from him departed without that law and right he ought to have. He also rendered to all men, whom he charged or bought anything of, rather above the market, than egall or under the market. He was so true and upright in all his doings, that where as he went the market always followed him. He would say often that he would eat grasses and drink water rather than he would be at a banquet with the heavy heart and curse of the poor. So that all things which was

« PreviousContinue »