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Reign of Charles I. (Continued.)


The Irish Rebellion - Remonstrance of the Commons - Impeachment of twelve Bishops - The King's attempt to seize six Members of Parliament-Bishops deprived of seats in Parliament - Continuance of the Irish Rebellion - King retires to York - Is shut out of Hull - Both King and Commons resort to arms - Charles raises his standard at Nottingham - Battle of Edge Hill - Treaty at Oxford - Battle of Newbury - Solemn League and Covenant - Close of the Irish Rebellion - Royalist Parliament at Oxford - Proposals for Peace - Battle of Marston Moor - Earl of Essex surrenders in the West - Self-denying Ordinance - Synod of Divines-Trial and Execution of Laud.
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The Irish had still greater cause than the Scotch for resisting the encroachments of the English. Besides that, their religion had been on all occasions ruthlessly persecuted, and every effort used to suppress it; their property had been confiscated by whole provinces at a time; their ancient chiefs had been driven from their lands, and many of them exterminated. Elizabeth, and James, and Charles, had proffered them new titles on condition of making large sacrifices, but had never kept their word, and at this moment, the graces promised by Charles to tolerate their religion, and confirm the titles of their estates, were unfulfilled. The example of the Scots had aroused them to the hope of achieving a like triumph. Their great enemy the earl of Strafford had fallen; his acts arid doctrines had been condemned; but, on the other hand, they were menaced by the parliament with a still more fierce persecution, and even an avowed extermination of their religion. They believed that the Scotch presbyterians would join with avidity in the attempt to subdue them, and come in for a share of the plunder of their estates; and they now seized on the idea of rising and reclaiming their ancient power and property. True, they were not one united people like the Scots: there were the ancient Irish, the Anglo-Irish, and the English of the pale, that is, English settled in Ireland, holding the estates of the expelled native chiefs, but keeping themselves apart from the Irish. Yet many of the pale were catholics, and the catholic religion was the unanimous object of attachment by the natives. The parliament and the Scotch were banded against this religion, and this produced a counter-bond betwixt the catholic natives and the catholics of the pale. From the British parliament neither of these parties had anything to hope for on the score of religion; but the king was in need of aid against this parliament, and it occurred to them that they might make common cause with him.

Roger Moore, a gentleman of Kildare, entered into this scheme with all the impetuosity of his nation. He saw the lands of his ancestors for the most part in the hands of English and Scotch settlers, and he made a pilgrimage into almost every quarter of Ireland, to excite his countrymen to grasp this opportunity, when the king and parliament of England were engrossed by their disputes, to recover their rights. Everywhere he was listened to with enthusiasm, and the natives held themselves ready to rise, and take a terrible vengeance on the usurpers of their lands at the first signal. The great chiefs of Ulster, Cornelius Maguire, beron of Inniskillen, and Sir Phelim O'Neil, who had become the chieftain of the sept of Tyrone after the death of the son of the late persecuted Tyrone, fell into his views with all their followers. The catholic members of the pale were more disposed to negotiate with Charles than to rash into insurrection against his authority. They knew that it was greatly to his interest at this moment to conciliate his Irish subjects, and they despatched to him a deputation previous to his journey to Scotland, demanding the ratification of those graces for which he had received the purchase money thirteen years before, and offering in return their warmest support to his authority in Ireland. Charles received them very graciously, promised them the full satisfaction of all their demands, and by lord Gormanstown, who headed the deputation, and on whom he lavished the most marked attentions, he sent word 'to the earls of Ormond and Antrim to secure in his interest the eight thousand troops which had been raised by Strafford, to keep them in efficient discipline, to augment rather than decrease their number, and to surprise the castle of Dublin, where they would find twelve thousand stand of arms.

But the English parliament were by no means unaware of the danger from the army in Ireland, which consisted almost entirely of catholics. They insisted on its being disbanded, as promised by the king on the Scotch pacification. He was not able to prevent this, and signed the order; but at the same time sent secret instructions by Gormanstown to Ormond and Antrim, to prevent this by enlisting the whole body as volunteers to serve the king of Spain iu Flanders,

At this juncture Sir William Parsons and Sir John Borlace were at the head of the English government in Ireland; they were in the interest of the parliament, and were detested by almost all classes of Irish. Sir John Clotworthy, in the house of commons, had openly declared that "the conversion of the papists in Ireland was only to be effected by the Bible in one hand, and the sword in the other." Pym was reported to have said that they would not leave a priest in Ireland; and at a public entertainment, Parsons had echoed those sentiments by declaring that "in a twelvemonth not a catholic would be left in that country," The Irish were, therefore, delighted with their success with the king, and Gormanstown and his associates hastened home again, with two bills signed by the king, granting the possession of all lands which had been held sixty years, and setting aside all the sequestrations made by Strafford. But Parsons and Borlace were duly informed by the party with which they acted in England, and aware that the passing of these bills would attach all Ireland to the interests of the king, they defeated the object by proroguing parliament a few days before the arrival of the deputies.

It was now resolved by the leaders Ormond and Antrim to defer any movement till the reassembling of the Irish parliament in November, when they could at the same moment secure the castle and the persons of Parsons and Borlace, and issue in the name of the two houses his majesty's concession to the people of Ireland. But the native Irish. stimulated by the addresses of Moore, could not wait so long. They determined to rise, without waiting for tli combined force, on the 23rd of October. Two hundred and twenty men were to surprise the castle, but at the time appointed only eighty appeared. They concluded to war till the next day for the arrival of the rest, but that night one Hugh M'Mahon, in a drunken fit, betrayed the secret to Owen O'Conolly, a servant of Sir John Clotworthy, and a protestant. He instantly carried the news to Sir William Parsons; the city gates were closed, and a quick search made for the conspirators. All but M'Mahon and lord Maguire escaped, but the castle was saved.

Ignorant of the failure of the plot, the people of Ulster rose on the appointed day. Charlemont and Dungannon were surprised by Sir Phelim O'Neil, Mountjoy by O'Quin, Tanderagee by O'Hanlan, and Newry by Macginnis. In little more than a week all the open country in Tyrone, Monagan, Longford, Leitrim, Fermanagh, Cavan, Donegal, Berry, and part of Down, were in their hands. The other colonies in which there were English or Scotch plantations, followed their example, and the greater part of Ireland was in a dreadful state of anarchy and terror. The protestant people on the plantations fell beneath the butchering revenge of the insurgents, or fled wildly into the fortified towns. The horrors of the Irish massacre of 1641 have assumed a fearful place in history; the cruelties, expulsions, and oppressions of long years were repaid by the most infuriated cruelty. Men, women, and children, fell indiscriminately iii the onslaught, and they who escaped, says Clarendon, "were robbed of all they had, to their very shirts, and so turned naked to endure the sharpness of the season, and by that means, and for want of relief, many thousands of them perished by hunger and cold."

Much pains have been taken by catholic writers to contradict these accounts, and to represent the atrocities committed as of no extraordinary extent. They remind us that no accounts of these barbarous slaughters were transmitted in the reports to the English parliament, which would have been only too glad to spread, and even exaggerate bloody deeds of the catholics. They reduce the number of people slain during the whole insurrection to about ten thousand, instead of the grossly exaggerated statements of Milton in his "Iconoclastes," that there were one hundred and fifty-four thousand in Ulster alone, or of Sir John Temple, that three hundred thousand were slain or expelled altogether. But nothing less than a most frightful massacre could have left the awful impression which still lives in tradition, and the calculations of moderate historians do not make the number massacred less than from fifteen thousand to twenty thousand. The earl of Castlehaven, a catholic, says that all the water in the sea could not wash from the Irish the taint of that rebellion. Whilst remembering the vengeance, however, we must never forget the long and maddening incentives to it. Great blame was attached to the deputy-governors, Borlace and Parsons, who, shut up in security in Dublin, took no measures for suppressing the insurgents. They were charged with purposely allowing the rebellion to spread, in order that there might be more confiscations, in which they would find their own benefit; but it must be remembered that they had few soldiers on whom they could rely, for they were nearly all catholics; nor did the insurgents escape without severe chastisement in many places, for wherever there was a trusty garrison, the soldiers easily repelled the disorderly mob of plunderers; and Sir Phelim O'Neil suffered during the month of November severe losses,

Before Charles reached England, O'Conolly, the discoverer of the plot, arrived in London, with letters from the lords justices, and was called before the house of lords to relate all that he knew. They immediately called the house of commons to a conference on the state of Ireland, and on the better providing for the security of England. They presented O'Conolly with five hundred pounds in money, and settled on him an annuity of two hundred pounds a year. It was resolved to look well after the catholics in this country, and to put the ports into a state of defence. The commons followed out this policy by voting two hundred thousand pounds to the requirements of Ireland; that six thousand foot and two thousand horse should be raised for service there, and that the fleet should carefully guard its coasts. The earl of Leicester, the lord-lieutenant, was desired to furnish a list of the most suitable officers for the service, and arms and ammunition were prepared in haste, to be despatched to Dublin. A pardon was offered to all rebels who laid down their arms by a certain day, at the same time that a reward was set on the heads of the leaders, But they did not stop there; they passed a resolution never to tolerate the catholic worship either in Ireland or in any part of his majesty's dominions. Commissioners were appointed to disarm the recusants in every part of the kingdom; pursuivants were sent out in every direction to seize priests and Jesuits; orders were given for the trial of all such persons; and the king was advised not to pardon or reprieve them. The queen's chapel was closed, her priests dismissed, her confessor sent to the Tower, and no less than seventy catholic lords and gentlemen were denounced by the commons to the lords, as persons who ought to be secured to prevent their doing injury to the state.

Such was the state of things when Charles arrived in London. He was well received by the lord mayor and aldermen of the city, and in return gave them an entertainment at Hampton Court; but he was greatly chagrined at the proceedings of the commons, telling them that they were converting the war in Ireland, which was a civil war, into a war of religion. He took umbrage also at the houses of parliament sitting with a guard round their house. The earl of Essex, on the king's arrival, surrendered his command of the forces south of the Trent to the king, and announced to the lords, that having resigned his commission, he could no longer furnish the guard. A message was sent from the houses, requesting the king to restore them the guard, but he refused, saying he saw no occasion for it; but the commons let him know that many dangerous persons, Irish and others, were lurking about, and that the "Incident" in Scotland, and the late attempt to surprise the castle in Dublin, warned them of their danger; and that not only must they have a guard, but they must nominate the commander of it themselves.

Whilst Charles was pondering on the answer which he should return to this unwelcome message, Sir Ralph Hopeton appeared at Hampton Court with another address from the commons yet more ominous. This bore the alarming title of a "Remonstrance on the state of the kingdom." It had been drawn up and passed by the commons before the king's return from Scotland, that is, on the 22nd of November; and it was resolved to present it to the king on his return. It was the act of the commons alone, and had not been carried even there without a violent debate, which lasted till two o'clock in the morning, the house having sate that day eighteen hours - the longest debate ever known in parliament, and the heat to which it was carried was such, that Sir Philip Warwick says, "We had sheathed our swords in each others bowels, had not the sagacity and calmness of Mr. Hampden, by a soft speech, prevented it." Cromwell is reported by Clarendon to have said to lord Falkland as they came out, that had it not been carried, he would have sold all and gone to America. "So near," he adds, "was the poor kingdom at that time to its deliverance."

And yet this famous remonstrance was only carried by a majority of nine, according to Clarendon; according to others, by eleven. It was as Clarendon describes it, "A very bitter representation of all the illegal things that had been done from the first hour of the king's coming to the crown, to that minute." It consisted of two hundred and six clauses - The war against the French protestants; the innovations in the church; the illegal imposition of ship-money; forced loans; the cruelties of the Star-chamber and High Commission: the forcing of episcopacy on Scotland; the forcing of it on the Irish by Straiford, and all the other illegal proceedings there; all the opposition of the king and his ministers to necessary reforms; and the plotting of the queen with the papists at home and abroad. It went on to remind the king of what they had done in pulling down his evil, counsellors, and informed him that other good things were in preparation.

The king the next day delivered his answer in the house of lords, protesting, as usual, his good intentions, telling the commons before he removed evil counsellors, they must point out who they were, and bring real facts against them; at the same time he significantly reminded them that he had left Scotland in perfect amity with him, so that they might infer that they were not to look for support against him there, and calling on them to stir themselves in aiding him to put down the rebellion in Ireland. Matters continued getting worse every day betwixt the king and parliament. From the 8th to the 20th of December there was a sullen humour betwixt them. So far from granting the parliament the usual guard, Charles had posted a guard of his own near the commons. They sent and summoned the commander of the guard before them, pronounced their being placed there a breach of their privileges, and demanded that they be removed. On the 14th of December Charles objected to their ordering the impressments of soldiers from Ireland, that being his prerogative, but that he would permit it for the time on the understanding that his right was not thereby affected. The next day the commons passed an order for the printing and publishing their remonstrance, which they had failed to carry on the day on which it was carried itself. This had a great effect with the public, and the king, in a restless, angry humour, prevailing in nothing against the house, sought to strengthen himself by getting a lieutenant into the Tower of his own party. But in this movement he was equally injudicious and equally unfortunate. He dismissed Sir William Balfour, who had so honestly resisted his warrant and the bribe of Strafford to effect that great culprit's escape; but to have deprived the commons of any plea for interfering in what was unquestionably his own prerogative, he should have replaced him by a man of character. Instead of that, he gave the post to colonel Lunsford, a man of desperate fortunes, and the most unprincipled reputation; outlawed for his violent attacks on different individuals, and known to be capable of executing the most lawless attempts. The city immediately petitioned the commons against the Tower being in the hands of such a man; the commons called for a conference with the lords on the subject, but the lords refused to meddle in what so clearly was the royal prerogative. The commons then called on them to enter the protest they had made on their books; but the lords took time to consider it. On Thursday, December 23rd, a petition was addressed to the commons, purporting to be from the apprentices of London, against papists and prelates, who, they contended, caused the destruction of trade by their plots, and the fears which thence unsettled men of capital, whereby they, the apprentices, "were nipped in the bud," on entering the world. The corporation waited on his majesty on Sunday the 26th, to assure him that the apprentices were contemplating a rising, and meant to carry the Tower by storm, unless Lunsford were removed; and that the merchants had already removed all their bullion from the Mint for fear of him, and the owners of ships coming in with new would not carry it there. That evening Charles sent and took the keys from his new lieutenant, and appointed Sir John Byron in his place.

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