Page images
PDF
EPUB

charity and meekness have been so extraordinarily belauded in the account of his life taken from Sir James Ware, and printed in the “Phoenix,” could not resist the temptation of flinging a dirty stone at the prostrate lion.

“I think,” he writes to Cromwell, “there is neither English ne Irish (the old corrupt sort set apart), but they be glad of his [Grey's] departure. Would to God that he mought be tried by the country. If the King's Grace heard the lamentable exclamations that been here made against him, it would pity his Majesty's heart. The best of the King's Council here were none other with him, saving your Lordship's honour, but knaves and villains; and he would hang the knaves, his own hands, nothing esteeming them. His chief counsel was Justice Howthe, James Bathe, Walter Goldyng, and Sir Gerald FitzGerald, and others such like; and even as was their counsel, so hath this land been ruled. Now being left at large, I cannot say that his Lordship favoureth that false traitor, Reginald Poole, whom, in communication between his Lordship and me, I called ‘papish Cardinal’; and he, in a great fume, called me ‘poll-shorn knave friar'; and shortly after that his Lordship took his journey towards Galway and Limerick, where, as it was commonly bruited, the said Cardinal should arrive, leaving there the King's chief ordnance.”f

Under the superintendence of his successor Sentleger and the Irish Council, evidence was actively collected against him. Among the most minute of the depositions, and as a pattern and summary of the rest, my readers may take John Darcy's information, printed in the first volume of the Carew Papers. No less than seventy witnesses were

* I can find nothing in Brown's acts or correspondence to justify this eulogium. Besides being extremely overbearing, he was scarcely less avaricious than his successor Loftus. He is charged with dissipating the property of his see in behalf of his family. Basnet, the Dean of St. Patrick's, complains that Brown refused to confirm his election, unless he received a fee of 200l. The dean on his advancement had already given Cromwell a douceur of 60l. for his goodwill, and felt no inclination to comply with Brown's exorbitant demand. (See Hamilton's Calendar, I. 39.)

f State Papers, III. 208. f Carew, I. 164.

examined, of all ranks and employments, friends, enemies, and servants, Irishmen and Englishmen, a list of whose names will be found at p. 171. It would be impossible to give here even a slight abstract of the contents of these voluminous depositions, or attempt to sift the truth from the falsehood contained in them. The proceedings lasted many months. The substance of the accusation may be reduced to four heads—conclusions at which the English Council had arrived at the close of the year;-first, that Grey had entertained the King's enemies; secondly, that he had injured the King's friends; thirdly, that he had released FitzGerald and others committed by the Council for treason ; and lastly, he had maintained and favoured O'Connor's [O'More's] sons. How far he might have been able to give a satisfactory answer to these charges, it is now impossible to determine. A state prisoner in those days had little opportunity of calling witnesses from so great a distance as Ireland, or of obtaining efficient legal help for testing and examining voluminous and complicated charges. In the hopelessness of the task, or else relying upon the King's favour, Grey attempted neither ; he pleaded guilty, was condemned for high treason, and executed on the Tower Hill, on the 28th of June following. Even if the charges had been fully and satisfactorily sustained, this will be thought a hard lot and an ungrateful return for Grey's services. But it is probable that Grey was not so much condemned for these his misdemeanours in Ireland as for his supposed complicity with Cardinal Pole. The Greys were at this time labouring under suspicion. There is a notice in the State Papers (VIII. 82) of a former secretary of the Marquis of Dorset, Grey's brother, holding correspondence with the Cardinal. Pole was actively engaged in forming a confederacy of all the continental powers, in conjunction with Scotland, for the invasion of England. On the 3rd of March 1539, Wriothesley writes to Cromwell that he has “ heard that the French King, the Bishop of Rome, and the King of Scots should be as it were in a league to “ invade us this summer, and how the Emperor will send to their aid certain Spaniards, which shall arrive “ in Scotland.” Pole, he adds a little while after, is a great counsellor with the Emperor; “England is made but a morsel amongst these chops.” And again, in March 1539,-“I hear that in Ireland should be some practices.”f It is likely also that Grey's antecedents were never wholly forgotten. In 1540 and 1541, the ferocity of the King, edged on by various causes, outstripped its ordinary bounds. He had only lately escaped from the perils of the northern rebellion. Then came the suppression of the monasteries, and the elements of discontent and disorder were rapidly growing to a formidable head. To these causes of irritation succeeded his distasteful marriage with Lady Ann of Cleves. Then followed the death of Cromwell, the execution of Protestants and Catholics, the marriage with Lady Catharine Howard, the discovery of the Queen's misconduct, a fresh rebellion in Yorkshire, the execution of the Countess of Salisbury, and various other incidents of a similar nature too numerous to be mentioned. Under these circumstances it was hardly probable that Grey could have expected mercy. Grey was succeeded by Sir Anthony Sentleger, a man of some ability; but Sir Anthony had not been long in

* State Papers, VIII. 166.
f Ibid. p. 175. f See this Preface, p. lv.

office when he in his turn was exposed to precisely the same accusations from the same enemies as had proved fatal to his predecessor. He was accused by Cowley, the defamer of Grey, of erecting a new Geraldine band,” and he justified himself upon the same grounds as Grey had done before him, in whose condemnation Sentleger had taken an active part. Both alleged, and truly, that as the Geraldines were annihilated, there was no longer any due counterpoise to the overgrown powers of the Earl of Ormond. He now found, as he might have expected, an opponent in Ormond no less bitter and implacable than his predecessor had found; and such was the influence of the Earl, that he contrived to draw over to his own views not merely those inveterate plotters Alen and Aylmer, but most other members of the Council. Before he had been five years in office, he has to complain to the authorities at home, almost in the words of Grey, that false and most crafty means were employed to bring him out of favour. In this confusion and elemental strife the voice of Archbishop Brown was still heard, not allaying but increasing the storm. Ormond had given him some offence. “I know not,” he says, “how these matters depending between your said Deputy “ and the Earl of Ormond can be taken up, unless it may “ please your Grace with celerity to send for them both “ to her Majesty's presence; not doubting but then your “ Highness shall easily perceive in whom the default is, “ and of all men's juggling here.”f Alen, as before, led the charge against the Deputy. In his notes on the state of Ireland he asserts that the English Pale, since Sentleger's accession to office, was “nothing amplified, but in strength decayed; and many

* State Papers, III. 379. f Ibid. III. 558.

“of the Irishmen never stronger.” He sums up his unfavourable estimate of Sentleger's six years' administration in these pithy and pointed terms—“It is a strange thing “ to me to consider how the King is beguiled, what money “ he hath spent these six years past, and his ancient “enemies stronger than they were, his subjects feebler, “ and his Grace's profit nothing augmented.” If we might believe so clever but captious a witness, the King's jurisdiction had almost ceased to exist within the territories of the reconciled Irish, who had in no respects carried out their promises of obedience.” The most judicious act of the English government during Sentleger's administration was the proclamation of Henry's title as King of Ireland in 1541.f. As the Irish Council wrote to the King on 30 December 1540 –“ It were good that your Majesty were from henceforth called “ King of Ireland; whereunto we think that, in effect, “ all the nobility and other inhabitants of this your land

* State Papers, III. 573. f See the ordinances and provisions made upon that occasion in the Parliament held at Dublin, Carew, I. 180 seq. As to many of the Acts then passed, they were not worth the paper on which they were written. Passing laws is one thing, securing obedience to them quite another. Of this nature was the ordinance No. 7, that every person committing a robbery beyond the value of 1s. 2d. should for the first offence lose one of his ears; for the second offence, the other ear ; and the third time suffer death. Such also, as applied to Irishmen, the ordinance that all faithful people should pay their tithes under ecclesiastical penalties. Such also, that no players or mummers should be allowed gratuities at Christmas or Easter under the penalty of losing an ear. How far the ordinance in reference to dress was likely to be regarded, I must leave to others, who are better judges, to determine. It is there stated (§ 21) that no lord or nobleman shall have in his shirt beyond 20 cubits of linen ; no horseman more than 18 cubits; no kerne more than 16; grooms and servants, 12; labourers, 10 cubits. All persons wearing saffron-coloured shirts

were to forfeit their shirts and pay 20s. † State Papers, III. 278.

« PreviousContinue »