The Project Gutenberg eBook of Ireland under the Tudors, with a Succinct Account of the Earlier History. Vol. 3 (of 3)

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Title: Ireland under the Tudors, with a Succinct Account of the Earlier History. Vol. 3 (of 3)

Author: Richard Bagwell

Release date: August 3, 2016 [eBook #52713]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Brownfox and the Online Distributed Proofreading
Team at (This file was produced from
images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


[Pg i]



[Pg ii]

2 vols. 8vo. 32s.




Vols. I. and II.

From the First Invasion of the Northmen to the year 1578.


[Pg iii]











All rights reserved

[Pg iv]


[Pg v]


By a mistake which was not the author’s, the title-pages of its first instalment described this book as being in two volumes. A third had, nevertheless, been previously announced, and this promise is now fulfilled. The Desmond and Tyrone rebellions, the destruction of the Armada, the disastrous enterprise of Essex, and two foreign invasions, have been described in some detail; and even those who speak slightingly of drum and trumpet histories may find something of interest in the adventures of Captain Cuellar, and in the chapter on Elizabethan Ireland.

A critic has said that your true State-paper historian may be known by his ignorance of all that has already been printed on any given subject. If this wise saying be true, then am I no State-paper historian; for the number of original documents in print steadily increases as we go down the stream of time, and they have been freely drawn upon here. But by far the larger part still remains in manuscript, and the labour connected with them has been greater than before, since Mr. H. C. Hamilton’s guidance was wanting after 1592. Much help is given by Fynes Moryson’s history. Moryson was a great traveller, whose business it had been to study manners and customs, who was Mountjoy’s secretary during most of his time in Ireland, and whose brother held[Pg vi] good official positions both before and after. Much of what this amusing writer says is corroborated by independent evidence. Other authorities are indicated in the foot-notes, or have been discussed in the preface to the first two volumes. Wherever no other collection is mentioned, it is to be understood that all letters and papers cited are in the public Record Office.

It has not been thought generally necessary to give the dates both in old and new style. The officials, and Englishmen generally, invariably refused to adopt the Gregorian calendar, but the priests, and many Irishmen who followed them, naturally took the opposite course. As a rule, therefore, the chronology is old style, but a double date has been given wherever confusion seemed likely to arise.

It has often been said that religion had little or nothing to do with the Tudor wars in Ireland, but this is very far from the truth. It was the energy and devotion of the friars and Jesuits that made the people resist, and it was Spanish or papal gold that enabled the chiefs to keep the field. This volume shows how violent was the feeling against an excommunicated Queen, and, whether they were always right or not, we can scarcely wonder that Elizabeth and her servants saw an enemy of England in every active adherent of Rome.

At first the Queen showed some signs of a wish to remain on friendly terms with the Holy See, but she became the Protestant champion even against her own inclination. Sixtus V. admired her great qualities, and invited her to return to the bosom of the Church. ‘Strange proposition!’ says Ranke, ‘as if she had it in her power to choose; as if her past life, the whole import of her being, her political position and attitude, did not, even supposing her conviction not to be sincere, enchain her to the Protestant cause. Elizabeth returned no answer, but she laughed.’

The Elizabethan conquest of Ireland was cruel mainly[Pg vii] because the Crown was poor. Unpaid soldiers are necessarily oppressors, and are as certain to cause discontent as they are certain to be inefficient for police purposes. The history of Ireland would have been quite different had it been possible for England to govern her as she has governed India—by scientific administrators, who tolerate all creeds and respect all prejudices. But no such machinery, nor even the idea of it, then existed, and nothing seemed possible but to crush rebellion by destroying the means of resistance. It was famine that really ended the Tyrone war, and it was caused as much by internecine quarrels among the Irish as by the more systematic blood-letting of Mountjoy and Carew. The work was so completely done that it lasted for nearly forty years, and even then there could have been no upheaval, but that forces outside Ireland had paralysed the English Government.

My best thanks are due to the Marquis of Salisbury for his kindness in giving me access to the treasures at Hatfield, and to Mr. R. T. Gunton for enabling me to use that privilege in the pleasantest way.

Marlfield, Clonmel,

March 17, 1890.

[Pg viii]


[Pg ix]




Papal designs against Ireland 1
James Fitzmaurice abroad 3
The last of Thomas Stukeley 6
Defencelessness of Ireland 8
Ulster in 1579 9
Fitzmaurice invades Ireland 10
Manifestoes against Elizabeth 13
Attitude of Desmond 17
Nicholas Sanders 17
Murder of Henry Davells 20
The Geraldines disunited 22
Death of Fitzmaurice 23
English vacillation 25
Progress of the rebellion 26
Last hesitations of Desmond 28
Desmond proclaimed traitor 31
Youghal sacked by Desmond 33
Ormonde’s revenge 35
The Queen is persuaded to act 38
Irish warfare 40
Pelham and Ormonde in Kerry 42
[Pg x]Maltby in Connaught 43
State of Munster 44
Ormonde’s raid 48
Rebellion of Baltinglas 51
A Catholic confederacy 52
Results of Pelham’s policy 54
Low condition of Desmond 57
Arrival of Lord-Deputy Grey 59
The disaster in Glenmalure 60
Consequences 63
Spanish descent in Kerry 65
Siege and surrender of the Smerwick fort 72
The massacre 74
State of Connaught 79
An empty treasury and storehouses 79
The Earl of Kildare’s troubles 80
Confusion in Munster 83
Raleigh 85
Ormonde superseded 87
Death of Sanders 89
Partial amnesty—William Nugent 91
Maltby in Connaught 92
John of Desmond slain 93
Savage warfare 96
Recall of Grey 97
William Nugent’s rebellion 99
Ormonde is restored 101
How ill-paid soldiers behaved 102
Desmond’s cruelty 103
General famine 104
Abortive negotiations 105
The rebels repulsed from Youghal 107
Ormonde shuts up Desmond in Kerry 107
Last struggles of Desmond 108
Ormonde and his detractors 110
Death of Desmond 113
[Pg xi]The Geraldine legend 114
Case of Archbishop O’Hurley 116
Spanish help comes too late 118
Murder of Sir John Shamrock Burke 119
Trial by combat 121
First proceedings of Perrott 122
Sir John Norris and Sir Richard Bingham 124
The Church 125
Munster forfeitures 126
The Ulster Scots 127
A forest stronghold 131
Proposed University 131
Hostility of Perrott and Loftus 134
State of the four provinces 135
The MacDonnells in Ulster 138
Perrott’s Parliament 140
Composition in Connaught 147
Perrott’s troubles 148
The Desmond attainder 149
The MacDonnells become subjects 150
Bingham in Connaught 151
The Scots overthrown in Sligo 154
Perrott’s enemies 157
Irish troops in Holland—Sir W. Stanley 161
The Irish in Spain 163
Prerogative and revenue 165
Bingham and Perrott 166
Perrott leaves Ireland peaceful 168
The Desmond forfeitures 169
Unprepared state of Ireland 172
Sufferings of the Spaniards—Recalde 173
Wrecks in Kerry, Clare, and Mayo 174
[Pg xii]Wrecks in Galway 176
Alonso de Leyva 177
Wrecks in Sligo 180
Adventures of Captain Cuellar 183
Spanish account of the wild Irish 185
Summary of Spanish losses 188
Tyrone and O’Donnell 190
Wreck in Lough Foyle 191
Relics and traditions 192
The Armada a crusade 193
The last of the Armada 194
Ulster after the Armada 196
O’Donnell politics 197
The Desmond forfeitures—Spenser 198
Raleigh 199
Florence MacCarthy 200
The MacMahons 201
Bingham in Connaught 203
O’Connor Sligo’s case 208
Bingham and his accusers 210
Sir Brian O’Rourke 212
Mutiny in Dublin 217
Tyrone and Tirlogh Luineach 218
Rival O’Neills 220
Rival O’Donnells 221
Hugh Roe O’Donnell 222
Tyrone and the Bagenals 223
Escape of Hugh Roe O’Donnell 226
O’Donnell, Maguire, and Tyrone 227
Trial and death of Perrott 228
Spanish intrigues 233
Fighting in Ulster 234
Recall of Fitzwilliam 236
Tyrone’s grievances 237
Fitzwilliam, Tyrone, and Ormonde 238
Florence MacCarthy 240
[Pg xiii]Remarks on Fitzwilliam’s government 241
Russell and Tyrone 242
Russell relieves Enniskillen 244
Tyrone generally suspected 245
The Wicklow Highlanders—Walter Reagh 246
Feagh MacHugh O’Byrne 247
Recruiting for Irish service 248
Soldiers and amateurs 250
Sir John Norris 251
The Irish retake Enniskillen 252
Murder of George Bingham 253
Tyrone proclaimed traitor 254
Quarrels of Norris and Russell 255
Ormonde and Tyrone 255
Bingham, Tyrone, and Norris 256
Death of Tirlogh Luineach O’Neill 258
Tyrone’s dealings with Spain 258
A truce 259
O’Donnell overruns Connaught 260
Liberty of conscience 261
Confusion in Connaught 263
Elizabeth on the dispensing power 264
Norris and Russell 265
Story of the Spanish letter 267
Spaniards in Ulster 268
Bingham in Connaught 268
Bingham leaves Ireland 271
Crusade against English Protestants 272
Disorderly soldiers 273
Death of Feagh MacHugh 274
Dissensions between Norris and Russell 276
Bingham in disgrace 278
Last acts of Russell 280
Norris and Burgh 282
Burgh attacks Tyrone 283
Failure of Clifford at Ballyshannon 285
Gallant defence of Blackwater fort 286
Death of Burgh 287
Death of Norris 288
[Pg xiv]Belfast in 1597 289
Disaster at Carrickfergus 290
Tyrone and Ormonde 291
Brigandage in Munster 292
Florence MacCarthy 293
Bacon and Essex 294
The Blackwater fort 295
Battle of the Yellow Ford 297
Panic in Dublin 300
The Munster settlement destroyed 301
The Sugane Earl of Desmond 302
Spenser, Raleigh, and others 305
The native gentry and Tyrone 307
Religious animosity 308
Weakness of the Government 309
O’Donnell in Clare 310
Tyrone in Munster 311
Essex offends the Queen 313
His ambition 315
Opinions of Bacon and Wotton 316
Great expectations 318
Evil auguries 320
Sir Arthur Chichester 321
Essex in Leinster 323
In Munster 324
Siege of Cahir 325
Deaths of Sir Thomas and Sir Henry Norris 326
Harrington’s defeat in Wicklow 328
Failure of Essex 331
Anger of the Queen 332
Death of Sir Conyers Clifford 336
Essex goes to Ulster 339
Essex makes peace with Tyrone 340
The Queen blames Essex 342
Who goes home without leave 343
Harrington’s account of Tyrone 344
Reception of Essex at court 346
Negotiations with Tyrone 347
Folly of Essex 348
[Pg xv]Liberty of conscience 349
Raleigh’s advice 351
Tyrone’s Holy War in Munster 352
Arrival of Mountjoy and Carew 353
Tyrone plays the king 354
Ormonde captured by the O’Mores 355
Carew in Munster—Florence MacCarthy 360
Docwra occupies Derry 361
Carew in Munster 363
O’Donnell harries Clare 365
Mountjoy and Essex 366
James VI. 368
The Pale 369
The midland counties 370
Mountjoy bridles Tyrone 372
Progress of Docwra 373
Relief of Derry 375
Spaniards in Donegal 376
Carew reduces Munster 377
The Queen’s Earl of Desmond 379
The end of the house of Desmond 384
Mountjoy and the Queen 386
Final reduction of Wicklow 387
Mountjoy and Essex 388
Confession of Essex—Lady Rich 389
The last of the Sugane Earl 391
Mountjoy in Tyrone 392
Plot to assassinate Tyrone 393
An Irish stronghold 394
Brass money 395
The Spaniards land at Kinsale 398
Mountjoy in Munster 399
The Spaniards come in the Pope’s name 400
The siege of Kinsale 401
O’Donnell joins Tyrone 403
[Pg xvi]Spanish reinforcements 404
Irish auxiliaries 406
Total defeat of Tyrone 408
Kinsale capitulates 411
Importance of this siege 414
Great cost of the war 415
THE END OF THE REIGN, 1602-1603.
The Spaniards still feared 417
The Queen’s anger against Tyrone 418
Carew reduces Munster 419
Siege of Dunboy 421
Death and character of Hugh Roe O’Donnell 425
Last struggles in Connaught 426
Progress of Docwra in Ulster 427
The O’Neill throne broken up 428
Last struggles in Munster 429
O’Sullivan Bere 430
Submission of Rory O’Donnell 432
Tyrone sues for mercy 433
Famine 434
Tyrone and James VI. 435
Death of Queen Elizabeth 437
Submission of Tyrone 438
Elizabeth’s work in Ireland 439
Natural features 441
Roads and strongholds 442
Field sports 444
Agriculture 445
Cattle 445
Fish 447
Trade and manufactures 447
Wine, ale, and whisky 448
Descriptions of the people 450
Tyrone’s soldiers 451
Costume 452
Conversion of chiefs into noblemen 453
Bards and musicians 454
Tobacco 455
Garrison life 456
[Pg xvii]Spenser and his friends 457
Elizabeth’s bishops 459
Forlorn state of the Church 460
Zeal of the Roman party 461
Bishop Lyon 463
Position of Protestants 464
Papal emissaries 465
Protestant Primates 466
Miler Magrath 468
The country clergy 469
Trinity College, Dublin 470
Irish seminaries abroad 472
Early printers in Ireland 473
Toleration—Bacon’s ideas 474
Social forces against the Reformation 475


MUNSTER To face p. 24.
ULSTER To face p. 244.


Page 18, line 12 from bottom, for provided to Killaloe read provided to Killala.
Page 56, bottom line, before Sanders insert and.
Page 384, line 4 from bottom, for Butler read Preston.

[Pg 1]




Papal designs against Ireland. Stukeley.

Sidney’s departure had been partly delayed by a report that Stukeley’s long-threatened invasion was at last coming. The adventurer had been knighted in Spain, and Philip had said something about the Duchy of Leinster. The Duke of Feria and his party were willing to make him Duke of Ireland, and he seems to have taken that title. At Paris Walsingham remonstrated with Olivares, who carelessly, and no doubt falsely, replied that he had never heard of Stukeley, but that the king habitually honoured those who offered him service. Walsingham knew no Spanish, and Olivares would speak nothing else, so that the conversation could scarcely have serious results. But the remonstrances of Archbishop Fitzgibbon and other genuine Irish refugees gradually told upon Philip, and the means of living luxuriously and making a show were withheld. ‘The practices of Stukeley,’ wrote Burghley to Walsingham, ‘are abated in Spain by discovery of his lewdness and insufficiency;’ and he went to Rome, where the Countess of Northumberland had secured him a good reception. ‘He left Florida kingdom,’ said Fitzwilliam sarcastically, ‘only for holiness’ sake, and to have a red hat;’ adding that he was thought holy at Waterford for going barefooted about streets and churches. ‘It is incredible,’ says Fuller, ‘how quickly he wrought himself through the notice into the favour, through the court into the chamber,[Pg 2] yea, closet and bosom, of Pope Pius Quintus.’ An able seaman, Stukeley was in some degree fitted to advance the Pontiff’s darling plan for crushing the Turks. The old pirate did find his way to Don John of Austria’s fleet, and seems to have been present at Lepanto. His prowess in the Levant restored him to Philip’s favour, and he was soon again in Spain, in company with a Doria and in receipt of 1,000 ducats a week.[1]

Thomas Stukeley on the Continent.

There was much movement at the time among the Irish in Spain, and the air was filled with rumours. Irish friars showed letters from Philip ordering all captains to be punished who refused them passages to Ireland, and the Inquisition was very active. One Frenchman was nevertheless bold enough to say that he would rather burn than have a friar on board, and those who sought a passage from him had to bestow themselves on a Portuguese ship. In 1575 Stukeley was again at Rome, and in as high favour with Gregory XIII. as he had been with his predecessor. The Pope employed him in Flanders, where he had dealings with Egremont Radcliffe. That luckless rebel had bitterly repented; but when he returned and offered his services to the queen, she spurned them and bade him depart the realm. From very want, perhaps, he entered Don John’s service, and when that prince died he was executed on a trumped-up charge of poisoning him. Stukeley was more fortunate, for he had then left the Netherlands, and Don John took credit with the English agent for sending him away. Wilson was equal to the occasion, and said the gain was the king’s, for Stukeley was a vain ‘nebulo’ and all the treasures of the Indies too little for his prodigal expenditure. It would be interesting to know what passed between the two adventurers, the bastard of Austria and the Devonshire renegade; between the man who tried to found a kingdom at Tunis, and talked[Pg 3] of marrying Mary Stuart, conquering England, and obtaining the crown matrimonial, and the man who, having dreamed of addressing his dear sister Elizabeth from the throne of Florida, now sought to deprive her of the Duchy of Ireland. Like so many who had to deal with this strange being, perhaps the governor of the Netherlands was imposed upon by his vapourings and treated him as a serious political agent. After leaving Brussels he went to Rome, well supplied with money and spending it in his old style everywhere. At Sienna Mr. Henry Cheek thought him so dangerous that he moved to Ferrara to be out of his way. At Florence the Duke honoured Stukeley greatly, ‘as did the other dukes of Italy, esteeming him as their companion.’ But he was without honour among his own countrymen, and they refused a dinner to which he invited all the English at Sienna except Cheek.[2]

Fitzmaurice on the Continent.

James Fitzmaurice was already at Rome. He had spent the best part of two years in France, where he was well entertained, but where he found no real help. He received supplies of money occasionally. The Parisians daily addressed him as King of Ireland, but nothing was done towards the realisation of the title. Sir William Drury’s secret agent was in communication with one of Fitzmaurice’s most trusted companions, and his hopes and fears were well known in Ireland. At one time he was sure of 1,200 Frenchmen, at another he was likely to get 4,000; and De la Roche, who was no stranger in Munster, was to have at least six tall ships for transport. De la Roche did nothing but convey the exile’s eldest son, Maurice, to Portugal, where he entered the University of Coimbra. Sir Amyas Paulet had instructions to remonstrate with the French Court, and the old Puritan seems to have been quite a match for Catherine de Medici; but there was little sincerity on either side. The Queen-mother’s confidential agent confessed that all was in disorder,[Pg 4] and that the French harbours were full of pirates and thieves, but she herself told Paulet that De la Roche had strict orders to attempt nothing against England. Having little hope of France, Fitzmaurice himself went to Spain, where his reception was equally barren of result. The Catholic King was perhaps offended at the Most Christian King having been first applied to, and at all events he was not yet anxious to break openly with his sister-in-law.[3]

Fitzmaurice and the Pope.

But at Rome, Fitzmaurice was received by Gregory with open arms. He was on very friendly terms with Everard Mercurian, the aged general of the Jesuits, who was, however, personally opposed to sending members of the order to England, Ireland, or Scotland; a point on which he was soon overruled by younger men. What the life of a Jesuit missionary was may be gathered from a letter written to the General about this time.

‘Once,’ wrote Edmund Tanner from Rosscarbery, ‘was I captured by the heretics and liberated by God’s grace, and the industry of pious people; twelve times did I escape the snares of the impious, who would have caught me again had God permitted them.’

But the harvest, though hard to reap, was not inconsiderable. Tanner reported that nobles and townsmen were daily received into the bosom of Holy Church out of the ‘sink of schism,’ and that the conversion would have been much more numerous but that many feared present persecution, and the loss of life, property, or liberty.

This chain still kept back a well-affected multitude, but the links were worn, and there was good hope that it soon would break.[4]

Fitzmaurice expects to free Ireland.

We know from an original paper which fell into the hands of the English Government, what were Fitzmaurice’s modes and requirements for the conquest of Ireland. Six thousand armed soldiers and their pay for six months, ten[Pg 5] good Spanish or Italian officers, six heavy and fifteen light guns, 3,000 stand of arms with powder and lead, three ships of 400, 50, and 30 tons respectively, three boats for crossing rivers, and a nuncio with twenty well-instructed priests—such were the instruments proposed. He required licence to take English ships outside Spanish ports, and to sell prizes in Spain. Property taken from Geraldines was to remain in the family, and every Geraldine doing good service was to be confirmed by his Holiness and his Catholic Majesty in land and title. Finally, 6,000 troops were to be sent to him in six months, should he make a successful descent.

As sanguine, or as desperate, as Wolfe Tone in later times, he fancied that England could be beaten in her own dominion by such means as these. Sanders, who was probably deceived by his Irish friends as to the amount of help which might be expected in Ireland, had no belief in Philip, whom he pronounced ‘as fearful of war as a child of fire.’ The Pope alone could be trusted, and he would give 2,000 men. ‘If they do not serve to go to England,’ he said, ‘at least they will serve to go to Ireland; the state of Christendom dependeth upon the stout assailing of England.’[5]

Fitzmaurice and Stukeley.

Stukeley appears to have got on better with Fitzmaurice than with Archbishop Fitzgibbon, which may have been owing to the mediation of Sanders or Allen. The Pope agreed to give some money, and Fitzmaurice hit upon an original way of raising an army. ‘At that time,’ says an historian likely to be well informed about Roman affairs, ‘Italy was infested by certain bands of robbers, who used to lurk in woods and mountains, whence they descended by night to plunder the villages, and to spoil travellers on the highways. James implored Pope Gregory XIII. to afford help to the tottering Catholic Church in Ireland, and obtained pardon for these brigands on condition of accompanying him to Ireland, and with these and others he recruited a force of[Pg 6] 1,000 soldiers more or less.’ This body of desperadoes was commanded by veteran officers, of which Hercules of Pisa (or Pisano) was one, and accompanied by Sanders and by Cornelius O’Mulrian, Bishop of Killaloe. Stukeley kept up the outward show of piety which he had begun at Waterford and continued in Spain, and he obtained a large number of privileged crucifixes from the Pontiff, perhaps with the intention of selling them well. It must be allowed that an army of brigands greatly needed indulgence, and fifty days were granted to everyone who devoutly beheld one of these crosses, the period beginning afresh at each act of adoration. Every other kind of indulgence might seem superfluous after this, but many were also offered for special acts of prayer, a main object of which was the aggrandisement of Mary Stuart.

Stukeley was placed in supreme charge of the expedition, which seems to have been done by the desire of Fitzmaurice, and the titles conferred on him by Gregory were magnificent enough even for his taste. He took upon himself to act as mediator between some travelling Englishmen and the Holy Office, and having obtained their release he gave them a passport. This precious document was in the name of Thomas Stukeley, Knight, Baron of Ross and Idrone, Viscount of Murrows and Kinsella, Earl of Wexford and Carlow, Marquis of Leinster, General of our Most Holy Father; and the contents are certified ‘in ample and infallible manner.’ Marquis of Leinster was the title by which Roman ecclesiastics generally addressed him.[6]

Battle of Alcazar, 1578. Death of Stukeley.

Stukeley left Civita Vecchia early in 1578, and brought his ships, his men, and his stores of arms to Lisbon, where he found nine Irish refugees, priests and scholars, whom Gregory had ordered to accompany him. He called them together, and, with characteristic grandiosity, offered a suitable daily stipend to each. Six out of the nine refused, saying: ‘They were no man’s subjects, and would take no stipend from anyone but the supreme Pontiff, or some king or great[Pg 7] prince.’ This exhibition of the chronic ill-feeling between English and Irish refugees argued badly for the success of their joint enterprise. After some hesitation, Sebastian of Portugal decided not to take part in this attack on a friendly power, and he invited the English adventurer to join him in invading Morocco, where dynastic quarrels gave him a pretext for intervention. Secretary Wilson was told that Stukeley had no choice, ‘the King having seized upon him and his company to serve in Africa.’ Sebastian had also German mercenaries with him. There was a sort of alliance at this time between England and Morocco, Elizabeth having sent an agent, with an Irish name, who found the Moorish Emperor ‘an earnest Protestant, of good religion and living, and well experimented as well in the Old Testament as in the New, with great affection to God’s true religion used in Her Highness’s realm.’ Whatever we may think of this, it is easy to believe that the Moor despised Philip as being ‘governed by the Pope and Inquisition.’ But it is not probable that this curious piece of diplomacy had much effect on the main issue. Stukeley warned Sebastian against rashness, advising him to halt at the seaside to exercise his troops, who were chiefly raw levies, and to gain some experience in Moorish tactics. But the young King, whose life was of such supreme importance to his country, was determined to risk all upon the cast of a die. The great battle of Alcazar was fatal alike to the Portuguese King and the Moorish Emperor. Stukeley also fell, fighting bravely to the last, at the head of his Italians. It may be said of him, as it was said of a greater man, that nothing in his life became him so much as his manner of leaving it.[7]

Result of this battle.

The Geraldine historian, O’Daly, says Fitzmaurice landed in Ireland entirely ignorant of Stukeley’s fate, but this statement is contradicted by known dates. Nor can we believe that if Stukeley had come with his Italian swordsmen while[Pg 8] Fitzmaurice lived, it would have fared ill with the English—that a little money and less blood would have sufficed to drive them out of Ireland. Yet it is probably true that the battle of Alcazar was of great indirect value to England. Sebastian left no heir, and the Crown of Portugal devolved on his great-uncle, Cardinal Henry, who was sixty-seven and childless. The next in reversion was Philip II., whose energies were now turned towards securing the much-coveted land which nature seemed to designate as proper to be joined with Spain. For a time, however, it was supposed that he would heartily embrace the sanguine Gregory’s schemes, and rumours were multiplied by hope or fear.

Ireland ill-prepared to resist invasion.

Lord Justice Drury knew that the lull in Ireland was only temporary, but Elizabeth made it an excuse for economy, and disaffected people, ‘otherwise base-minded enough,’ were encouraged to believe that the government would stand anything rather than spend money. By refusing to grant any protections, and by holding his head high, Drury kept things pretty quiet, but he had to sell or pawn his plate. He hinted that, as there was no foreign invasion, her Majesty might continue to pay him his salary, and save his credit. Meanwhile, he had some small successes. Feagh MacHugh made his submission in Christ Church cathedral, and gave pledges to Harrington, whom he acknowledged as his captain. Desmond and his brother John came to Waterford and behaved well, and a considerable number of troublesome local magnates made their submissions at Carlow, Leighlin, Castledermot, and Kilkenny; twenty-nine persons were executed at Philipstown, but the fort was falling down, and this was little likely to impress the neighbouring chiefs. Drury’s presence alone saved it from a sudden attack by the O’Connors. But a son of O’Doyne’s was fined for concealment, and his father took it well, so that it was possible to report some slight progress of legal ideas. Meanwhile there was great danger lest the Queen’s ill-judged parsimony should destroy much of what had been done in Sidney’s time. Thus, the town of Carrickfergus had been paved and surrounded by wet ditches; the inhabitants had, in consequence, been increased[Pg 9] from twenty to two hundred, forty fishermen resorted daily to the quay, and sixty ploughs were at work. But over 200l. was owing to the town, the garrison were in danger of starving, and it was feared that ‘the townsmen came not so fast thither, but would faster depart thence.’[8]

Ulster in 1579.

Tirlogh Luineach O’Neill was now old and in bad health. It was again proposed to make him a peer; but this was not done, since it was evident that a title would make fresh divisions after his death. There were already four competitors, or rather groups of competitors, for the reversion; of whom only two were of much importance. Shane O’Neill’s eldest legitimate son, known as Henry MacShane, was supported by one legitimate and five illegitimate brothers, and Drury’s idea was ‘by persuasion or by force of testoons’ to make him a counterpoise to the Baron of Dungannon, whose ambitious character was already known. The bastardy of the baron’s grandfather had been often condoned by the Crown, but was not forgotten and might be turned to account. Against the advice of his leeches old Tirlogh was carried forty miles on men’s shoulders, to meet Bagenal at Blackwater, and said he was most anxious to meet Drury. Dungannon, who expected an immediate vacancy, begged hard for 200 soldiers, without which the MacShanes would muster twice as many men as he could. He promised not to go out of his own district as long as the old chief lived. Drury temporised, since he could do nothing else, and tried what effect his own presence in the North might have. The suddenness of his movement frightened Tirlogh, who got better, contrary to all expectation, and showed himself with a strong force on the top of a hill near Armagh, refusing however to come in without protection. This Drury refused on principle, and Tirlogh’s wife, who was clever enough to see that no harm was intended, tried in vain to bring her husband to the Viceroy’s camp. Meanwhile he and the Baron became fast[Pg 10] friends, and the latter proposed to put away O’Donnell’s daughter, to whom he was perhaps not legally married, and to take Tirlogh’s for his wife. Drury made him promise not to deal further in the match; but his back was no sooner turned than the marriage was celebrated, and the other unfortunate sent back to Tyrconnell. At the same time Tirlogh gave another of his daughters to Sorley Boy MacDonnell’s son, and the assistance of the Scots was thus supposed to be secured. There were rumours that Fitzmaurice would land at Sligo, and a general confederacy was to be looked for. Fitton, who had been long enough in Ireland to know something about it, saw that the Irish had great natural wits and knew how to get an advantage quite as well as more civil people, and that Tirlogh, like the rest of his countrymen, would submit while it suited him and no longer.[9]

Fitzmaurice and Sanders sail for Ireland.

After Stukeley’s death James Fitzmaurice continued to prepare for a descent on Ireland. After his return from Rome he went to France, where he joined his wife, son, and two daughters. He then spent nearly three months at Madrid with Sanders, and obtained 1,000 ducats for his wife, who was then in actual penury at ‘Vidonia’ in Biscay. But he could not see the king, and professed himself indifferent to help from Spain or Portugal. ‘I care for no soldiers at all,’ he said to Sanders; ‘you and I are enough; therefore let me go, for I know the minds of the noblemen in Ireland.’ Some of Stukeley’s men, with a ship of about 400 tons, had survived the Barbary disaster. O’Mulrian, Papal Bishop of Killaloe, came to Lisbon from Rome with the same men and two smaller vessels, and by the Pope’s orders Stukeley’s ship was given to them. Sanders accompanied the bishop, and there seem to have been about 600 men—Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Flemings, Frenchmen, Irish, and a few English. It was arranged that this motley crew should join Fitzmaurice at Corunna, and then sail straight to Ireland. A Waterford merchant told his wife that the men were very[Pg 11] reticent, but were reported to be about to establish the true religion. When questioned they said they were bound for Africa, but the Waterford man thought they were going to spoil her Majesty’s subjects. Meanwhile Fitzmaurice was at Bilbao with a few light craft. The largest was of sixty tons, commanded by a Dingle man who knew the Irish coast, but who ultimately took no part in the expedition. William Roche, who had been Perrott’s master gunner at Castlemaine, and James Den of Galway, were also retained as pilots. A little later Fitzmaurice had a ship of 300 tons, for which he gave 800 crowns, several small pieces of artillery, 6,000 muskets, and a good supply of provisions and trenching tools. The men received two months’ pay in advance.

Fitzmaurice’s one idea was to raise an army in Munster, and he told an Irish merchant who thought his preparations quite inadequate, that ‘when the arms were occupied’ he made no account of all the Queen’s forces in Ireland. He was accompanied by his wife and daughter and about fifty men, who were nearly all Spaniards. Sanders went to Bilbao after a short stay at Lisbon, and two merchants, one of Waterford and one of Wexford, who came together from the Tagus to the Shannon, reported that a descent was imminent. ‘The men,’ they said, ‘be willing; they want no treasure, they lack no furniture, and they have skilful leaders.’ To oppose a landing the Queen had one disabled ship in Ireland, and there were no means of fitting her out for sea.[10]

The voyage.

The French rover, De la Roche, in spite of Catherine de Medici’s assurance, seems to have co-operated with Fitzmaurice. John Picot, of Jersey, bound for Waterford with Spanish wine, was warned at San Lucar by a Brest man that De la Roche and Fitzmaurice spoiled everyone they met. To avoid them Picot kept wide of the coast; nevertheless he fell in[Pg 12] with eight sail 60 leagues N.W. of Cape St. Vincent. They fired and obliged him to lower a boat, and then robbed him of wine, oil, raisins, and other things of Spain. Picot saw twelve pieces of cannon in De la Roche’s hold, but was warned significantly not to pry under hatches again. The Jerseymen were beaten, the St. Malo men spared, and all were told, with ‘vehement oaths and gnashing of teeth,’ that if they had been Englishmen they would have been thrown overboard—a fate which actually befell the crew of a Bristol vessel two or three days later. Finding that Picot was going to Ireland, his captors said they would keep company with him; but thick weather came on, and by changing his course, he got clear within twenty-four hours. A few days after Fitzmaurice was in Dursey Sound with six ships, and others were sighted off Baltimore. He picked up a fisherman and bade him fetch in Owen O’Sullivan Bere, but that chief refused, and three days later the invading squadron cast anchor off Dingle.[11]

Fitzmaurice and Sanders reach Ireland.

The portreeve and his brethren went off to speak with the strangers next morning. Some Spaniards whom they knew refused to let them come on board, and they sent at once to Desmond for help. The preparations for resistance were of the slightest. The constable of Castlemaine reported that he had only five hogsheads of wheat, two tuns of wine, three hogsheads of salmon, and some malt; and that he was dependent for meat upon such bruised reeds as Desmond and Clancare. There were neither men nor stores at Dublin, and no hope of borrowing even 500l. Cork had but five barrels of inferior powder, and no lead. At Waterford there were only 2,000 pounds of powder. All that Drury could do was to write letters charging the Munster lords to withstand the traitors, but a fortnight passed before he himself could get as far as Limerick.[12]

[Pg 13]

They land at Dingle.

Mr. James Golde, Attorney-General for Munster, writing from Tralee, thus describes the manner of Fitzmaurice’s landing, which took place on the day after his arrival at Dingle:—

‘The traitor upon Saturday last came out of his ship. Two friars were his ancient-bearers, and they went before with two ancients. A bishop, with a crozier-staff and his mitre, was next the friars. After came the traitor himself at the head of his company, about 100, and went to seek for flesh and kine, which they found, and so returned to his ships.’[13] On the same day they burned the town, lit fires on the hills as if signalling to some expected allies, and then shifted their berths to Smerwick harbour, taking with them as prisoners some of the chief inhabitants of Dingle. At Smerwick they began to construct a fort, of which the later history is famous. It was believed that Fitzmaurice expected immediate help out of Connaught. ‘Ulick Burke is obedient,’ said Waterhouse; ‘but I believe that John will presently face the confederacy.’ Drury could only preach fidelity, and commission Sir Humphrey Gilbert to take up ships and prosecute the enemy by sea and land.[14]

Proclamation of Fitzmaurice.

Fitzmaurice brought to Ireland two printed proclamations—one in English for those who spoke it and were attached to the English crown, the other in Latin for the Irish and their priests.

The first paper sets forth that Gregory XIII. ‘perceiving what dishonour to God and his Saints, &c.... hath fallen to Scotland, France, and Flanders, by the procurement of Elizabeth, the pretensed Queen of England; perceiving also that neither the warning of other Catholic princes and good Christians, nor the sentence of Pope Pius V., his predecessor, nor the long sufferance of God, could make her to forsake her schism, heresy, and wicked attempts; now purposeth (not without the consent of other Catholic potentates) to deprive[Pg 14] her actually of the unjust possession of these kingdoms, &c.’ Any attack on the Crown of England is disclaimed; the usurper was alone aimed at, and the help of the English Catholics was considered certain. The Catholics were everywhere, but ‘Wales, Chestershire, Lancastershire, and Cumberland’ were entirely devoted to the old faith, and their proximity to Ireland increased their importance. Throughout England the husbandmen—the raw material of every army—were ‘commonly all Catholics.’ Elizabeth had a few friends indeed, but she would be afraid to send them away from her, and if Ireland remained united, all must go well. One great crime of Queen Elizabeth was her refusal to declare an heir-apparent; by espousing the cause of that heir, whose name is not mentioned, the reward of those who worship the rising sun might fairly be expected. Fitzmaurice explained that the Pope had appointed him general because he alone had been present at Rome, but that he intended to act by the advice of the Irish prelates, princes, and lords, ‘whom he took in great part for his betters.’ And his appeal ends thus: ‘This one thing I will say, which I wish to be imprinted on all our hearts, if all we that are indeed of a good mind would openly and speedily pass our faith by resorting to his Holiness’ banner, and by commanding your people and countries to keep no other but the Catholic faith, and forthwith to expel all heresies and schismatical services, you should not only deliver your country from heresy and tyranny, but also do that most godly and noble act without any danger at all, because there is no foreign power that would or durst go about to assault so universal a consent of this country; being also backed and maintained by other foreign powers, as you see we are, and, God willing, shall be; but now if one of you stand still and look what the other doth, and thereby the ancient nobility do slack to come or send us (which God forbid), they surely that come first, and are in the next place of honour to the said nobility, must of necessity occupy the chief place in his Holiness’ army, as the safeguard thereof requireth, not meaning thereby to prejudice any nobleman in his own dominion or lands, which he otherwise rightfully[Pg 15] possesseth, unless he be found to fight, or to aid them that do fight, against the Cross of Christ and his Holiness’ banner, for both which I, as well as all other Christians, ought to spend our blood and, for my part, intend at least by God’s grace, Whom I beseech to give you all, my lords, in this world courage and stoutness for the defence of His faith, and in the world to come life everlasting.’[15]

Continuity of some Irish ideas.

The whole document is a good example of the sanguine rhetoric in which exiles have always indulged, and of the way in which the leaders of Irish sedition have been accustomed to talk. The part assigned to continental powers and to English Catholics in the sixteenth century, was transferred to the French monarchy in the seventeenth, and to the revolutionary republic in the eighteenth; and now, in the nineteenth, it is given to the United States of America, and to the British working-man.

A second proclamation.

A translation of the shorter paper may well be given in full:—‘A just war requires three conditions—a just cause, lawful power, and the means of carrying on lawful war. It shall be made clear that all three conditions are fulfilled in the present case.

‘The cause of this war is God’s glory, for it is our care to restore the outward rite of sacrifice and the visible honour of the holy altar which the heretics have impiously taken away. The glory of Christ is belied by the heretics, who deny that his sacraments confer grace, thus invalidating Christ’s gospel on account of which the law was condemned; and the glory of the Catholic Church they also belie, which against the truth of the Scriptures they declare to have been for some centuries hidden from the world. But in the name of God, in sanctification by Christ’s sacraments, and in preserving the unity of the Church, the salvation of us all has had its chief root.

‘The power of this war is derived first from natural, and then from evangelical, law. Natural law empowers us to defend ourselves against the very manifest tyranny of heretics,[Pg 16] who, against the law of nature, force us, under pain of death, to abjure our first faith in the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, and unwillingly to receive and profess a plainly contrary religion; a yoke which has never been imposed by Christians, Jews, or Turks, nor by themselves formerly upon us. And so since Christ in his gospel has given the help of the kingdom of heaven—that is, the supreme administration of his Church—to Peter, Gregory XIII., the legitimate successor of that chief of the Apostles in the same chair, has chosen us general of this war, as abundantly appears from his letters and patent (diploma), and which he has the rather done that his predecessor, Pius V., had deprived Elizabeth, the patroness of those heresies, of all royal power and dominion, as his declaratory decision (sententia), which we have also with us, most manifestly witnesseth.

‘Thus we are not warring against the legitimate sceptre and honourable throne of England, but against a she-tyrant who has deservedly lost her royal power by refusing to listen to Christ in the person of his vicar, and through daring to subject Christ’s Church to her feminine sex on matters of faith, about which she has no right to speak with authority.

‘In what belongs to the conduct of the war, we have no thoughts of invading the rights of our fellow-citizens, nor of following up private enmities, from which we are especially free, nor of usurping the supreme royal power. I swear that God’s honour shall be at once restored to Him, and we are ready at any moment to lay down the sword, and to obey our lawful superiors. But if any hesitate to combat heresy, it is they who rob Ireland of peace, and not us. For when there is talk of peace, not with God but with the Devil, then we ought to say, with our Saviour: I came not to bring peace on earth, but a sword. If then we wage continual war to restore peace with God, it is most just that those who oppose us should purchase their own damnation, and have for enemies all the saints whose bones they spurn, and also God himself, whose glory they fight against.

‘Let so much here suffice, for if anyone wishes to understand the rights of the case he need but read and understand[Pg 17] the justice and reasonableness of the fuller edict which we have taken care should be also published.’[16]

How Fitzmaurice understood liberty of conscience.

In these papers the arguments derived from the right to liberty of conscience, which all Protestants should respect, and from the Papal claims which all Protestants deny, are blended with no small skill; but Fitzmaurice, while demanding liberty of conscience for himself, expressly denies it to those who disagree with him.

Desmond and Fitzmaurice.

There can be no doubt that Desmond was jealous of James Fitzmaurice; and historians well-affected to the Geraldines have attributed the latter’s rebellion to the ill-feeling existing between them. It is said that Lady Desmond, who was a Butler, had prevented her husband from making any provision for his distinguished kinsman. It was reported to Drury that Fitzmaurice had called himself Earl of Desmond on the Continent, and that this would be sure to annoy the Earl, whose pride was overweening. But this does not seem to have been the case. Fitzmaurice is not called Earl either in his own letters or in those written to him. The general of the Jesuits addresses him as ‘the most illustrious Lord James Geraldine’; the Pope speaks of him as James Geraldine simply, and so he calls himself, sometimes adding ‘of Desmond.’ But that he should have been appointed general of a force which was to operate in Desmond’s country was quite enough to excite suspicion. No sooner did the news of his arrival reach the Earl than he wrote to tell Drury that he and his were ready to venture their lives in her Majesty’s quarrel, ‘and to prevent the traitorous attempts of the said James.’ He had nevertheless been in correspondence with Fitzmaurice, and had urged his immediate descent upon the Irish coast some eighteen months before.[17]

Nicholas Sanders, the Jesuit.

Not less important than Fitzmaurice was Dr. Nicholas[Pg 18] Sanders, who acted as treasurer of the expedition. He was known by the treatise De Visibili Monarchia which Parker said was long enough to wear out a Fabius, and almost unanswerable, ‘not for the invincibleness of it, but for the huge volume.’ Answers were nevertheless written which no doubt satisfied the Anglican party, but the Catholic refugees at Brussels thought so highly of Sanders that they begged Philip to get him made a cardinal.

Making the best of both worlds.

The English were then in disgrace at Rome, where the appointment of a Welshman as Rector of the new college had caused a mutiny among the students, and Allen doubted whether his own credit was good, but it was upon him that the red hat was at last conferred. To Sanders must be ascribed most of what was written in Fitzmaurice’s name, and that was a small part of what fell from his prolific pen. Queen Elizabeth, said the nuncio, was a heretic. She was childless, and the approaching extinction of Henry VIII.’s race was an evident judgment. She was ‘a wicked woman, neither born in true wedlock nor esteeming her Christendom, and therefore deprived by the Vicar of Christ, her and your lawful judge.’ Her feminine supremacy was a continuation of that which the Devil implanted in Paradise when he made Eve Adam’s mistress in God’s matters.’ When a knowledge of Celtic was necessary Sanders’s place might be taken by Cornelius O’Mulrian, an observant friar, lately provided to the see of Killaloe, or by Donough O’Gallagher, of the same order, who was provided to Killaloe in 1570. Letters in Irish were written to the Munster MacDonnells, Hebridean gallowglasses serving in Desmond, whom Fitzmaurice exhorts to help him at once—‘first, inasmuch as we are fighting for our faith, and for the Church of God; and next, that we are defending our country, and extirpating heretics, barbarians, and unjust and lawless men; and besides that you were never employed by any lord who will pay you and your people their wages and bounty better than I shall, inasmuch as I never was at any time more competent to pay it than now.... We are on the side of truth and they on the side of falsehood; we are Catholic Christians, and they are heretics; justice is with us, and[Pg 19] injustice with them.... All the bonaght men shall get their pay readily, and moreover we shall all obtain eternal wages from our Lord, from the loving Jesus, on account of fighting for his sake.... I was never more thankful to God for having great power and influence than now. Advise every one of your friends who likes fighting for his religion and his country better than for gold and silver, or who wishes to obtain them all, to come to me, and that he will find each of these things.’[18]

Fitzmaurice appeals to Desmond.

In the letter written by Sanders to Desmond in Fitzmaurice’s name, the Earl is reminded that the latter ‘warfareth under Christ’s banner, for the restoring of the Catholic faith in Ireland.’ Then, flying into the first person in his hurry, he says His Holiness ‘has made me general-captain of this Holy War.’ There are many allusions to Christ’s banner and to the ancient glories of the Geraldines, and the epistle ends with a recommendation to ‘your fellows, and to all my good cousins your children, and to my dear uncle your brother, longing to see all us, all one, first as in faith so in field, and afterwards in glory and life everlasting.’

A like appeal was made to the Earl of Kildare, and we may be sure that none of the Munster lords were forgotten. Friars were busy with O’Rourke, O’Donnell, and other northern chiefs, and the piratical O’Flaherties brought a flotilla of galleys, which might have their own way in the absence of men-of-war. Three of Fitzmaurice’s ships sailed away, and were expected soon to return with more help. Thomas Courtenay of Devonshire happened to be at Kinsale with an armed vessel, and was persuaded by his countryman Henry Davells, one of the Commissioners of Munster, to come round and seize the remaining Spanish ships. Courtenay seems not to have been in the Queen’s service; like so many other men of Devon, he was probably half-pirate and half-patriot. To cut out the undefended vessels from their anchorage was[Pg 20] an easy and congenial task, and thus, to quote another Devonian, ‘James Fitzmaurice and his company lost a piece of the Pope’s blessing, for they were altogether destituted of any ship to ease and relieve themselves by the seas, what need soever should happen.’ The O’Flaherties sailed away with the two bishops on Courtenay’s arrival, but Maltby afterwards found their lair upon the shores of Clew Bay. One was promptly hanged by martial law; a second, who had property to confiscate, was reserved for the sessions, and a third was killed for resisting his captors; the rest were to be hanged when caught. Fitzmaurice had with him at Smerwick but twenty-five Spaniards, six Frenchmen, and six Englishmen, besides twenty-seven English prisoners whom he forced to work at the entrenchments. Provisions were scarce, and the whole enterprise might have collapsed had it not been for a crime which committed the Desmonds irretrievably.[19]

Murder of Davells and Carter.

On hearing of the landing in Kerry Drury had despatched a trusty messenger to confirm the Earl and his brother in their allegiance. The person selected was Henry Davells, a Devonshire gentleman who had served Henry VIII. in France, had afterwards seen fighting in Scotland, and had long lived in Carlow and Wexford, where he was well known and much respected. His countryman Hooker, who knew him, says he was not only the friend of every Englishman in Ireland, but also much esteemed by the Irish for his hospitality and true dealing. ‘If any of them had spoken the word, which was assuredly looked to be performed, they would say Davells hath said it, as who saith “it shall be performed.” For the nature of the Irishman is, that albeit he keepeth faith, for the most part, with nobody, yet will he have no man to break with him.’ The same writer assures us that the mere fact of being Davells’ man would secure any Englishman a free passage and hospitable reception throughout Munster and Leinster. He was equally valued by Desmond[Pg 21] and Ormonde, an intimate friend of Sir Edmund Butler, and on such terms with Sir John of Desmond, whose gossip he was and whom he had several times redeemed out of prison, that the latter used to call him father. Davells now went straight to Kerry, saw the Earl and his brothers, whom he exhorted to stand firm, and visited Smerwick, which he found in no condition to withstand a resolute attack. Returning to the Desmonds he begged for a company of gallowglasses and sixty musketeers, with whom and with the aid of Captain Courtenay, he undertook to master the unfinished fort. Desmond refused, saying that his musketeers were more fitted to shoot at fowls than at a strong place, and that gallowglasses were good against gallowglasses, but no match for old soldiers. English officers afterwards reported that sixty resolute men might have taken Smerwick, and were thus confirmed in their belief that Desmond had intended rebellion from the first, and that Fitzmaurice, whose ability was undeniable, would not have taken up such a weak position without being sure of the Earl’s co-operation. But religious zeal might account for that.

Davells, who was accompanied by Arthur Carter, Provost Marshal of Munster, and a few men, started on his return journey, prepared no doubt to tell Drury that nothing was to be expected of the Desmonds. John of Desmond, accompanied by his brother James and a strong party, followed to Tralee, surrounded the tavern where the English officers lay, and bribed the porter to open the door. Davells and Carter were so unsuspicious that they had gone to bed, and allowed their servant to lodge in the town. When Davells saw Sir John entering his room with a drawn sword he called out, ‘What, son! what is the matter?’ ‘No more son, nor no more father,’ said the other, ‘but make thyself ready, for die thou shalt.’ A faithful page cast himself upon his master’s body; but he was thrust aside and Sir John himself despatched Davells.

Carter was also killed, and so were the servants. In a curious print the two Englishmen are represented as sleeping in the same bed. Sir John holds back the servant with his[Pg 22] left hand and transfixes Davells with the right, while Sir James goes round, with a sword drawn, to Carter’s side. Outside stand several squads of the Desmond gallowglasses, and armed men are killing Davells’ followers, while Sanders appears in two places, carrying the consecrated papal banner, hounding on the murderers, and congratulating the brothers on their prowess. According to all the English accounts Sanders commended the murder as a sweet sacrifice in the sight of God, and two Irish Catholic historians mention it. But Fitzmaurice was a soldier, and disapproved of killing men in their beds. There is no positive evidence as to Desmond. Geraldine partisans say he abhorred the deed, but he never punished anyone for it, and Sir James was said to have pleaded that he was merely the Earl’s ‘executioner.’ Desmond accepted a silver-gilt basin and ewer, and a gold chain only a few days after the murder.[20]

Fitzmaurice and John of Desmond.

‘Landed gentlemen,’ says Sidney Smith, ‘have molar teeth, and are destitute of the carnivorous and incisive jaws of political adventurers.’ The Munster proprietors held aloof with the Earl of Desmond, ‘letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would,”’ while the landless men followed his bolder and more unscrupulous brother. When Fitzmaurice disembarked, Desmond had 1,200 men with him; shortly after the murder of Davells he had less than 60; but Sir John was soon at the head of a large force. The activity of Maltby not only prevented any rising in Connaught, but also made it impossible for Scots to enter Munster. He lay at Limerick waiting till Drury was ready, and when the latter, who was ill, came to Limerick at the risk of his life, it was Maltby who[Pg 23] entered the woods and drove the rebels from place to place. For a time Fitzmaurice and his cousin kept together, though it may be that the latter’s savagery was disagreeable to the man who had seen foreign courts, and who was evidently sincerely religious, though the English accused him of hypocrisy. According to Russell, who gives details which are wanting elsewhere, the two marched together unopposed into the county of Limerick, where one of Sir John’s men outraged a camp-follower. Fitzmaurice ordered him for execution, but Sir John, ‘little regarding the Pope’s commission, and not respecting murder or rape,’ refused to allow this, and Fitzmaurice, seeing that he could not maintain discipline, departed with a few horsemen and kernes, nominally on a pilgrimage to Holy Cross Abbey, really perhaps to enter Connaught through Tipperary and Limerick, and thus get into Maltby’s rear. In doing so he had to pass through the territory of a sept of Burkes, of whom some had been with him in his former enterprise. Fitzmaurice was in want of draught animals, and took two horses out of the plough. The poor peasants raised an alarm, and at a ford some miles south of Castle Connell the chief’s son Theobald, who was learned in the English language and law, and who may have had Protestant leanings, appeared with a strong party. He was already on the look-out, and had summoned MacBrien to his aid.

Death of Fitzmaurice.

Fitzmaurice urged Burke to join the Catholic enterprise; he answered that he would be loyal to the Queen, and a fight followed. Burke had but two musketeers with him, one of whom aimed at Fitzmaurice, who was easily known by his yellow doublet. The ball penetrated his chest, and feeling himself mortally wounded, he made a desperate dash forward, killed Theobald Burke and one of his brothers, and then fell, with or without a second wound. ‘He found,’ says Hooker characteristically, ‘that the Pope’s blessings and warrants, his agnus Dei and his grains, had not those virtues to save him as an Irish staff, or a bullet, had to kill him.’ The Burkes returned after the death of their leader, and, having confessed to Dr. Allen, the best of the Geraldines breathed[Pg 24] his last. Lest the knowledge of his death should prove fatal to his cause, a kinsman cut off Fitzmaurice’s head and left the bare trunk under an oak—an evidence of haste which shows that there was no great victory to boast of. The body was nevertheless recognised, carried to Kilmallock, and hanged on a gibbet; and the soldiers barbarously amused themselves by shooting at their dead enemy. ‘Well,’ says Russell, ‘there was no remedy—God’s will must be done, punishing the sins of the father in the death of the son. Fitzmaurice made a goodly end of his life (only that he bore arms against his sovereign princess, the Queen of England). His death was the beginning of the decay of the honourable house of Desmond, out of which never issued so brave a man in all perfection, both for qualities of the mind and body, besides the league between him and others for the defence of religion.’[21]

To face page 24.
London: Longmans & Co.
Edwd. Weller, lith.


[1] Strype’s Annals, Eliz. lib. i. ch. i. and ii. i. Walsingham to Cecil, February 25, 1571, and Burghley to Walsingham, June 5, both in Digges’s Complete Ambassador. Lady Northumberland to Stukeley, June 21, 1571, in Wright’s Elizabeth. Answers of Martin de Guerres, master mariner, February 12, 1572; Examination of Walter French, March 30; report of John Crofton, April 13.

[2] Stukeley to Mistress Julian (from Rome) October 24, 1575, in Wright’s Elizabeth, Motley’s Dutch Republic, part v. ch. v.; Strype’s Annals, Eliz. book ii. ch. viii.; Wilson to Burghley and Walsingham, February 19, 1577, and to the Queen, May 1, both in the Calendar of S. P. Foreign; Henry Cheek to Burghley, March 29, 1577; Strype’s Life of Sir John Cheek. Stukeley left Don John at the end of February, 1577.

[3] Intelligence received by Drury, February 19, 1577, and April 16; Examination of Edmund MacGawran and others May 10; Paulet to Wilson, August, 1577, in Murdin’s State Papers.

[4] Edmundus Tanner Patri Generali Everardo, October 11, 1577, in Hogan’s Hibernia Ignatiana.

[5] Sanders to Allen, Nov. 6, 1577 (from Madrid) in Cardinal Allen’s Memorials; James Fitzmaurice’s instruction and advice (now among the undated papers of 1578) written in Latin and signed ‘spes nostra Jesus et Maria, Jacobus Geraldinus Desmoniæ.’

[6] This passport, given at Cadiz in April, 1578, ‘by command of his Excellency,’ is in Sidney Papers, i. 263. O’Sullivan’s Hist. Cath. lib. iv. cap. xv. O’Daly’s Geraldines, ch. xx. Strype’s Annals, Eliz. book ii. ch. xiii.

[7] Letter signed by ‘Donatus Episcopus Aladensis,’ David Wolf the Jesuit, and two other Irish priests, printed from the Vatican archives in Brady’s Episcopal Succession, ii. p. 174. Edmund Hogan to Queen Elizabeth (from Morocco) June 11, 1577; Dr. Wilson to——, June 14, 1578, in Wright’s Elizabeth.

[8] Drury to Walsingham, Jan. 6 and 12, 1579; to Burghley, Sept. 21, 1578; Drury and Fitton to Burghley, Oct. 10, 1578; Fitton to Burghley, Feb. 22, 1579. Note of services &c., town of Knockfergus in Carew, ii. p. 148.

[9] Drury to Walsingham, Jan. 6, 1579 (enclosing an O’Neill pedigree); to Burghley, Jan. 6 and Feb. 11, 1579; to the Privy Council, March 14; Fitton to Burghley, Feb. 12, 1579.

[10] Patrick Lumbarde to his wife (from Lisbon) Feb. 20, 1579; Nic. Walshe to Drury, Feb. 27; Declaration of James Fagan and Leonard Sutton, March 23; Drury to Walsingham, March 6; Desmond to Drury, April 20; Examination of Dominick Creagh, April 22, and of Thomas Monvell of Kinsale, mariner, April 30.

[11] July 17, 1579. Examination (at Waterford) of John Picot of Jersey, master, and Fr. Gyrard, of St. Malo, pilot, July 24; Lord Justice and Council to the Privy Council, July 22; Sir Owen O’Sullivan to Mayor of Cork, July 16; Portreeve of Dingle to Earl of Desmond, July 17. The story of the Bristol crew is told in Mr. Froude’s 27th chapter, ‘from a Simancas MS.’

[12] Lord Justice and Council to the Privy Council with enclosure, July 22, 1579; Waterhouse to Walsingham, July 23 and 26; Mayor of Waterford to Drury, July 25.

[13] James Golde to the Mayor of Limerick, July 22, 1579.

[14] Desmond, abp. of Cashel (Magrath), and Wm. Apsley to Drury, July 20, 1579; Waterhouse to Walsingham, July 23 and 24; Commission to Sir H. Gilbert, July 24; James Golde to the Mayor of Limerick, July 22.

[15] The signature is ‘In omni tribulatione spes mea Jesus et Maria, James Geraldyne.’

[16] These two declarations are at Lambeth. In the Carew Calendar, they are wrongly placed under 1569, when Pius V. was still alive. They are printed in full in the Irish (Kilkenny) Archæological Journal, N.S. ii. 364.

[17] Desmond to Drury, July 19, 1579; Russell. The letter from Desmond’s servant, William of Danubi, to Fitzmaurice, calendared under July 1579 (No. 37) certainly belongs to the end of 1577, just after Rory Oge had burned Naas.

[18] James Fitzmaurice to Alexander, Ustun, and Randal MacDonnell, July, 1579; these letters, with translation, were printed by O’Donovan in Irish (Kilkenny) Archæological Journal, N.S. ii. 362; Strype’s Parker, lib. iv. cap. 15, and the appendix; Sanders to Ulick Burke in Carew, Oct. 27, 1579. In Cardinal Allen’s Memorials is a letter dated April 5, 1579, in which Allen calls Sanders his ‘special friend.’

[19] Fitzmaurice to Desmond and Kildare, July 18, 1579; Waterhouse to Walsingham, July 24; notes of Mr. Herbert’s speech, Aug. 3; Maltby’s discourse April 8, 1580; Hooker in Holinshed.

[20] Hooker and Camden for the English view of Desmond’s conduct; Russell and O’Daly for the other side, and also O’Sullivan, ii. iv. 15. The picture is reproduced in the Irish (Kilkenny) Archæological Journal, 3rd S. i. 483. In his 27th chapter Mr. Froude quotes Mendoza to the effect that Davells was Desmond’s guest; but Hooker says distinctly that he ‘lodged in one Rice’s house, who kept a victualling-house and wine tavern.’ In a letter of Oct. 10, 1579, Desmond says his brother James was ‘enticed into the detestable act.’ E. Fenton to Walsingham, July 11, 1580; Lord Justice and Earl of Kildare to the Privy Council, Aug. 3, 1579. Examination of Friar James O’Hea in Carew, Aug. 17, 1580. Collection of matters to Nov. 1579.

[21] Irish Archæological Journal, 3rd S. i. 384; Four Masters; Camden; Hooker; O’Sullivan, ii. iv. 94. Waterhouse to Walsingham, Aug. 3 and 9, 1579. Fitzmaurice fell shortly before Aug. 20. O’Sullivan calls the place Beal Antha an Bhorin, which may be Barrington’s bridge or Boher. This writer, who loves the marvellous, says a Geraldine named Gibbon Duff, was tended among the bushes by a friendly leech, who bound up his eighteen wounds. A wolf came out of the wood and devoured the dirty bandages, but without touching the helpless man. The Four Masters, who wrote under Charles I., praise Theobald Burke and regret his death.

[Pg 25]



Vacillating policy of England.

Sir John of Desmond at once assumed the vacant command, and Drury warned the English Government that he was no contemptible enemy, though he had not Fitzmaurice’s power of exciting religious enthusiasm, and had yet to show that he had like skill in protracting a war. The Munster Lords were generally unsound, the means were wanting to withstand any fresh supply of foreigners, and there could be no safety till every spark of rebellion was extinguished. The changes of purpose at Court were indeed more than usually frequent and capricious. English statesmen, who were well informed about foreign intrigues, were always inclined to despise the diversion which Pope or Spaniard might attempt in Ireland; and the Netherlands were very expensive. Moreover, the Queen was amusing herself with Monsieur Simier. Walsingham, however, got leave to send some soldiers to Ireland, and provisions were ordered to be collected at Bristol and Barnstaple. Then came the news that Fitzmaurice had not above 200 or 300 men, and the shipping of stores was countermanded. On the arrival of letters from Ireland, the danger was seen to be greater, and Walsingham was constrained to acknowledge that foreign potentates were concerned, ‘notwithstanding our entertainment of marriage.’ One thousand men were ordered to be instantly raised in Wales, 300 to be got ready at Berwick, extraordinary posts were laid to Holyhead, Tavistock, and Bristol. Money and provisions were promised. Sir John Perrott received a commission, as admiral, to cruise off Ireland with five ships and 1,950 men, and to go against the Scilly pirates when he had nothing better to do. Then[Pg 26] Fitzmaurice’s death was announced, and again the spirit of parsimony prevailed. The soldiers, who were actually on board, were ordered to disembark. These poor wretches, the paupers and vagrants of Somersetshire, and as such selected by the justices, had been more than a fortnight at Bristol, living on bare rations at sixpence a day, and Wallop with great difficulty procured an allowance of a halfpenny a mile to get them home. The troops despatched from Barnstaple were intercepted at Ilfracombe, and all the provisions collected were ordered to be dispersed. Then again the mood changed, and the Devonshire men were allowed to go.[22]

The Munster people sympathise with the rebellion.
Death of Drury, who is succeeded by Sir William Pelham.

The Earl of Kildare, who was probably anxious to avoid fresh suspicion, gave active help to the Irish government, ‘making,’ as Waterhouse testified, ‘no shew to pity names or kindred.’ He exerted his influence with the gentry of the Pale to provide for victualling the army, and he accompanied the Lord Justice in person on his journey to Munster. The Queen wrote him a special letter of thanks, and Drury declared that he found him constant and resolute to spend his life in the quarrel. The means at the Lord Justice’s disposal were scanty enough:—400 foot, of which some were in garrison, and 200 horse. He himself was extremely ill, but struggled on from Limerick to Cork, and from Cork to Kilmallock, finding little help and much sullen opposition; but the arrival of Perrott, with four ships, at Baltimore seemed security enough against foreign reinforcements to the rebels, and Maltby prevented John of Desmond from communicating with Connaught. Sanders contrived to send letters, but one received by Ulick Burke was forwarded, after some delay, to the government, and Desmond still wavered, though the Doctor tried to persuade him that Fitzmaurice’s death was a provision of God for his fame. ‘That devilish traitor Sanders,’ wrote Chancellor Gerrard, ‘I hear—by examination of some persons who were in the forts with him and[Pg 27] heard his four or five masses a day—that he persuaded all men that it is lawful to kill any English Protestants, and that he hath authority to warrant all such from the Pope, and absolution to all who can so draw blood; and how deeply this is rooted in the traitors’ hearts may appear by John of Desmond’s cruelty, hanging poor men of Chester, the best pilots in these parts, taken by James, and in hold with John, whom he so executed maintenant upon the understanding of James his death.’ No one, for love or money, would arrest Sanders, and Drury could only hope that the soldiers might take him by chance, or that ‘some false brother’ might betray him. Desmond came to the camp at Kilmallock, but would not, or could not, do any service. Drury had him arrested on suspicion, and, according to English accounts, he made great professions of loyalty before he was liberated. The Irish annalists say his professions were voluntary, that he was promised immunity for his territory in return, and that the bargain was broken by the English. Between the two versions it is impossible to decide. The Earl did accompany Drury on an expedition intended to drive John of Desmond out of the great wood on the borders of Cork and Limerick. At the place now called Springfield, the English were worsted in a chance encounter, their Connaught allies running away rather than fight against the Geraldines. In this inglorious fray fell two tried old captains and a lieutenant, who had fought in the Netherlands, and the total loss was considerable. Drury’s health broke down after this, and instead of scouring Aherlow Woods the stout old soldier was carried in a litter to his deathbed at Waterford. As he passed through Tipperary, Lady Desmond came to him and gave up her only son as a hostage—an unfortunate child who was destined to be the victim of state policy.

Sir William Pelham, another Suffolk man, had just arrived in Dublin, and was busy organising the defence of the Pale against possible inroads by the O’Neills. He was at once chosen Lord Justice of the Council, and the Queen confirmed their choice.

Drury was an able and honest, though severe governor,[Pg 28] and deserves well of posterity for taking steps to preserve the records in Birmingham Tower. Sanders gave out that his death was a judgment for fighting against the Pope, forgetting that Protestants might use like reasoning about Fitzmaurice.[23]

Desmond still hesitates.

Maltby was temporary Governor of Munster by virtue of Drury’s commission, and had about 150 horse and 900 foot, the latter consisting, in great measure, of recruits from Devonshire. He summoned Desmond to meet him at Limerick, and sent him a proclamation to publish against the rebels. The Earl would not come, and desired that freeholders and others attending him might be excepted from the proclamation. Maltby, who had won a battle in the meantime, then required him to give up Sanders, ‘that papistical arrogant traitor, that deceiveth the people with false lies,’ or to lodge him so that he might be surprised. Upon this the Earl merely marvelled that Maltby should spoil his poor tenants. ‘I wish to your lordship as well as you wish to me,’ was the Englishman’s retort, ’and for my being here, if it please your Lordship to come to me you shall know the cause.’ It did not please him, and the governor made no further attempt at conciliation.[24]

Maltby defeats the rebels.

The encounter which gave Maltby such confidence in negotiation took place on October 3 at Monasternenagh, an ancient Cistercian abbey on the Maigue. The ground was flat, and Sir William Stanley, the future traitor of Deventer, said the rebels came on as resolutely as the best soldiers in Europe. Sir John and Sir James of Desmond had over 2,000 men, of which 1,200 were choice gallowglasses, and Maltby had about 1,000. Desmond visited his brothers in the early morning, gave them his blessing, and then withdrew to Askeaton, leaving his men behind.

‘He is now,’ said Maltby, ‘so far in, that if her Majesty[Pg 29] will take advantage of his doings his forfeited living will countervail her Highness’s charges; and Stanley remarked that the Queen might make instead of losing money by the rebellion. After a sharp fight, the Geraldines were worsted, and the Sheehy gallowglasses, which were Desmond’s chief strength, lost very heavily. The two brothers escaped by the speed of their horses and bore off the consecrated banner, ‘which I believe,’ said Maltby, ‘was anew scratched about the face, for they carried it through the woods and thorns in post haste.’ Sanders, if he was present, escaped, but his fellow-Jesuit, Allen, was killed. In a highly rhetorical passage Hooker describes this enthusiast’s proceedings, and likens his fall to that of the prophets of Baal. Maltby’s commission died with Drury, and he stood on the defensive as soon as he heard of the event.[25]

Desmond and Ormonde.

Ormonde had been about three years in England, looking after his own interests, and binding himself more closely to the party of whom Sussex was the head. Disturbance in Munster of course demanded his presence, and he prepared to start soon after the landing of James Fitzmaurice. ‘I pray you,’ he wrote to Walsingham, ‘do more in this my cause than you do for yourself, or else the world will go hard.’

Desmond is forced to say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

In thanking the Secretary for his good offices he said, ‘I am ready to serve the Queen with my wonted good-will. I hope she will not forget my honour in place of service, though she be careless of my commodity.’ A month later he was in Ireland, and after spending some days at Kilkenny, was present at the delivery of the sword to Pelham, whom he prepared to accompany to the south. He had the Queen’s commission as general in Munster, and Kildare was left to guard the Ulster border. Little knowing the man he had to deal with, Desmond wrote to bid him weigh his cause as his own. ‘Maltby,’ he said, ‘is a knave that hath no[Pg 30] authority, who has been always an enemy to mine house.’ To some person at Court, perhaps to Sidney, he recounted his services. Before the landing of Fitzmaurice he had executed three scholars, of which one was known to be a bishop. He had at once given notice of the landing, had blockaded Smerwick, and had helped to drive off the O’Flaherties, so that the traitors had like to starve. After Fitzmaurice’s death he had broken down the fort and had been ready to victual Drury’s army, had not the latter prepared to support his men by spoiling the Desmond tenants. Finally, he had delivered his son, and would have done more, but that many of his men had deserted while he was under arrest. All along he had feared the fate of Davells for his wife and son, knowing that his brother John hated them mortally. Maltby had none the less treated him as an enemy, and had in particular ‘most maliciously defaced the old monument of my ancestors, fired both the abbey, the whole town, and all the corn thereabouts, and ceased not to shoot at my men within Askeaton Castle.’ The letters which Ormonde received from Desmond—for there seem to have been more than one—were handed over to Pelham, who directed the writer to meet him between Cashel and Limerick, or at least at the latter place. He was to lose no time, for the Lord Justice was determined not to lie idle. Desmond did not come, but he had an interview with Ormonde for the discussion of certain articles dictated by Pelham. The principal were that Desmond should surrender Sanders and other strangers, give up Carrigafoyle or Askeaton, repair to the Lord Justice, and prosecute his rebellious brother to the uttermost. The penalty for refusing these terms was that he should be proclaimed traitor. After conferring with Ormonde, he wrote to say that he had been arrested when he went to the late Lord Justice. He refused to give up Askeaton, perhaps thinking it impregnable, but was ready to do his best against Sanders and his unnatural brethren if his other castles were restored to him. Pelham answered that the proclamation was ready and should be published in three days, unless Desmond came sooner to his senses. Still[Pg 31] protesting his loyalty, he refused to make any further concession. A last chance was given him; if he would repair to Pelham’s presence by eight next morning he should have licence to go to England. No answer was returned, and the proclamation was published as Pelham had promised. By a singular coincidence, and as if to presage the ruin of the house of Desmond, a great piece of the wall of Youghal fell of itself upon the same day. The die was cast, and the fate of the Geraldine power was sealed.[26]

Desmond is proclaimed traitor. November, 1579.

The proclamation asserted that Desmond had practised with foreign princes, that he had suffered Fitzmaurice and his Spaniards to lurk in his country, and that he had been privy to the murder of Davells and others. He was accused of feigning loyalty and of purposely allowing the garrison to escape from their untenable post at Smerwick. It was said that he had gone from the Lord Justice into Kerry against express orders, had seen that the strangers were well treated—being, in fact, in his pay—and had even placed some of them in charge of castles. He had joined himself openly with the proclaimed traitors his brothers, and with Dr. Sanders, that odious, unnatural, and pestiferous traitor; and quite lately his household servants had been engaged with the Queen’s troops at Rathkeale. Perhaps the strongest piece of evidence was a paper found in a portmanteau belonging to Dr. Allen, ‘one of the traitors lately slain,’ which showed how the artillery found at Smerwick had been distributed by Desmond among the rebels. To detach waverers it was announced that all who appeared unconditionally before the Lord Justice or the Earl of Ormonde should be received as liege subjects. Besides Pelham, Waterhouse, Maltby, and Patrick Dobbyn, Mayor of Waterford, the subscribers to the proclamation were all Butlers; Ormonde and his three brothers, Lords Mountgarret and Dunboyne, and Sir Theobald Butler of Cahir. Some of these had been rebels, but all were now united to overwhelm the Geraldines and possibly to[Pg 32] win their lands. ‘There was,’ said Waterhouse, ‘great practice that the Earl of Ormonde should have dealt for a pacification, but when it came to the touch he dealt soundly—and will, I think, follow the prosecution with as much earnestness as any to whom it might have been committed.’ He was, in fact, enough of an Irishman to wish that even Desmond might have a last chance; but when it came to choosing between loyalty and rebellion his choice was as quickly made as his father’s had been when he resisted the blandishments of Silken Thomas.[27]

Weakness of the Government.
The Queen grumbles.

Finding himself in no condition to attack so strong a place as Askeaton, Pelham returned to Dublin, and Ormonde went to Waterford to prepare for a western campaign. He wrote to tell Walsingham of his vast expenses. His own company of 100 men was so well horsed and armed that none could gainsay it; but the ships were unvictualled, and Youghal and Kinsale were doubtfully loyal. ‘I have the name of 800 footmen left in all my charge, and they be not 600 able men, as Mr. Fenton can tell, for I caused my Lord Justice to take view of them. They be sickly, unapparelled, and almost utterly unvictualled. There are 150 horsemen with me that be not 100.... My allowance is such as I am ashamed to write of.... I long to be in service among the traitors, who hope for foreign power.’ But the Queen was very loth to spend money, and very angry at the imperfect intelligence from Ireland. The number of Spaniards who landed was never known. There were certainly more in the country than Fitzmaurice had at Smerwick; and the number of harbours between Kinsale and Tralee was most convenient for contraband cargoes. Her Majesty also grumbled about Pelham’s new knights, lest they should be emboldened to ‘crave support to maintain their degree.’ There were but two, Gerrard the Chancellor, and Vice-Treasurer Fitton; both had served long and well, and it was customary for every new governor to confer some honours. Peremptory orders were sent that the pension list should be cut down, and the Queen[Pg 33] even talked of reducing the scanty garrison. She was offended at the proclamation of Desmond, as she had been five years before, and found fault with everything and everybody. Pelham said the proclamation was an absolute necessity, since no person of any consideration in Munster would stir a finger until ‘assured by this public act that your Majesty will deal thoroughly for his extirpation.’ Before the proclamation, at the time of the fight with Maltby, Desmond had guarded the Pope’s ensign with all his own servants, and ‘in all his skirmishes and outrages since the proclamation crieth Papa Aboo, which is the Pope above, even above you and your imperial crown.’ In despair the Lord Justice begged to be recalled, but Ormonde, who knew Elizabeth’s humour, made up his mind to do what he could with small means. At this juncture, and as if to show that he had not been proclaimed for nothing, Desmond committed an outrage which for ever deprived him of all hope of pardon.[28]

Desmond threatens Youghal.
Sack of Youghal

The town of Youghal, which had always been under the influence of his family, was at this time fervently Catholic. The Jesuits kept a school there, and the townsmen had been ‘daily instructed in Christian doctrine, in the celebration of the Sacrament, and in good morals, as far as the time permitted, but not without hindrance.’ The corporation were uneasy, and sent two messengers, of which one was a priest, to fetch powder from Cork. Sir Warham St. Leger, who had been acting as Provost Marshal of Munster since Carter’s death, gave the powder or sent it, and offered to send one of Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s well-armed ships to protect the town, which the fallen wall laid open to attack. But the corporation refused to incur the expense of supporting Gilbert’s sailors or Ormonde’s soldiers, and made little or no preparation for their own defence. On Friday, November 13, Desmond, accompanied by the Seneschal of Imokilly, encamped on the south side of Youghal, near the Franciscan priory, which his own ancestors had founded. He gave out that his intentions[Pg 34] were harmless, and that he had come only to send messengers to Ormonde, who could prove that he had been wrongfully proclaimed traitor. Meanwhile, he demanded wine for his men, and the mayor, who was either a fool or a traitor, let him take the ferry-boat, which was the only means by which the town might be relieved from the Waterford side. The Geraldines were to take two tuns of wine, and then depart; but during Saturday and Sunday morning they had frequent conversations with their friends on the walls. The result was that they mustered with evidently hostile intentions, and that the mayor ordered the gunners in the round tower, which commanded the landing-place, not to fire first, although they had a ‘saker charged with a round shot, a square shot, and a handspike of an ell long, wherewith they were like to have spoiled many of them. One elderly man of the town commanded not to shoot off lest the rebels would be angry therewith, and threatened to kill the gunner if he would give fire.’ Other sympathisers had already carried out ladders and hung ropes over the walls. With such help the rebels easily entered the breach, and in an hour all was over. Wives and maidens were ravished, and the town was ruthlessly sacked. Many of the inhabitants helped the work, ‘notwithstanding that they saw the ravishing of their women, the spoiling of their goods and burning of their houses, and that (which is most detestable treason), notwithstanding that they saw the Earl and Sir John, the Seneschal of Imokilly, and divers others draw down in the court-house of the town her Majesty’s arms, and most despitefully with their daggers to cut it and thrust it through.’ ‘This they did,’ Ormonde added, ‘as an argument of their cankered and alienated hearts.’ The plunder was considerable, and the Four Masters sympathetically record that many a poor indigent person became rich and affluent by the spoils of this town. Some of Lord Barry’s men were present, and most of the plunder was carried into his country and sold there. As one of Desmond’s followers filled his pouch with gold and silver from a broken chest, he said to his master that the thing was very pleasant if not a dream. Dermot O’Sullivan, the[Pg 35] historian’s father, stood by and warned the Earl that the sweetest dreams might be but a mockery. The houses and gates were burned, and when Ormonde came a few weeks later he found the ruins in sole possession of a friar, who was spared for his humanity in securing Christian burial to Henry Davells. The mayor was caught and hanged at his own door, and it is hard to say that he did not deserve it.[29]

Ormonde’s revenge.
The garrisons.

A fortnight after the sack of Youghal, Ormonde was in the field, and thus describes the nature of his three weeks’ campaign: ‘I was in Connello the 6th of this month, between Askeaton and Newcastle, two of the Earl’s chief houses, and preyed, spoiled, and burned the country, even to the mountain of Slieve Logher, and returned to Adare without sight of the rebels. In the county of Cork I burned John of Desmond’s town and castle called Lisfinnen, with all his land in Coshbride.’ He then returned to Tipperary, and let his officers go to Dublin for a holiday. The soldiers had had bread only for one day out of four, and neither wine, beer, nor spirits. Beef and forage were scarce, and they had passed rivers, wading to the stomach, often seven times a day, and never less than three. They had to bivouack in the open, and camp-fires were hard to light in December. ‘It is easier,’ said Wallop, ‘to talk at home of Irish wars than to be in them.’ The garrisons had not a very pleasant time of it either. Sir George Bourchier was at Kilmallock with 200 men whose pay was two months in arrear. He had but fifty pounds of powder, and was unable to join Ormonde, for the chief magistrate locked the gates, and the inhabitants declared that they would vacate the town if he deserted them. Desmond was expected daily, and the fate of Youghal was[Pg 36] before their eyes. Sir William Stanley and George Carew had been left by Maltby at Adare. Between them and Askeaton lay Kerry, which Sanders, in the Pope’s name, had granted to Sir James of Desmond. One morning early Stanley and Carew passed 120 of their men over the Maigue in one of the small boats, then and now called cots, which scarcely held ten at a time. After spoiling the country and putting to the sword whomsoever they thought good, they were attacked by Sir James, the knight of Glin, and the Spaniards who garrisoned Balliloghan Castle. Though the enemy were nearly four to one, Stanley and Carew managed to keep them in check till they reached the river, and then passed all their men over without loss, they themselves being the last to cross. It may be supposed, though Hooker does not say so, that they were in some measure covered by the guns of the castle. A little later Desmond tried to lure the garrison out by driving cattle under their walls, failing which ‘he sent a fair young harlot as a present to the constable, by whose means he hoped to get the house; but the constable, learning from whence she came, threw her (as is reported to me), with a stone about her neck, into the river.’[30]

Rumours from abroad.
Ormonde’s troubles.

The English Government urged Pelham to go to Munster himself, and he waited for provisions at Waterford. Reports of the rebels’ successes came to England constantly from Paris, for the war had become a religious one. By every ship sailing to France or Spain, ‘Sanders,’ said Burghley, ‘sent false libels of the strength of his partners, and of the weakness of the Queen’s part.’ He spread rumours through Ireland that a great fleet was coming from Spain and Italy, bringing infinite stores of wine, corn, rice, and oil from the Pope and King Philip. Munster was to be Desmond’s; Ulster Tirlogh Luineach’s, and a nuncio was soon to come with full powers. It was reported that Desmond and Sanders distrusted each other, and that the latter was watched lest he should try to escape. His credit was probably restored by[Pg 37] the arrival of two Spanish frigates at Dingle. It had been reported in Spain that both Desmond and Sanders were killed, but after conferring with the doctor, and learning that the rebellion was not yet crushed, the strangers promised help before the end of May. Sanders pleaded hard for St. Patrick’s day, lamenting that he had been made ‘an instrument to promise to perfect Christians what should not be performed.’ Still, through the spring and summer he confidently declared that help was coming, and in the meantime both he and Desmond were hunted like partridges upon the mountains. Pelham begged the Queen to consider what her position would have been had a stronger force landed with James Fitzmaurice, and to harden her heart to spend the necessary money. Ormonde was still more outspoken, and we know from others that his complaints were well founded. ‘I required,’ he said, ‘to be victualled, that I might bestow the captains and soldiers under my leading in such places as I knew to be fitted for the service, and most among the rebels. I was answered there was none. I required the ordnance for batteries many times and could have none, nor cannot as yet, for my Lord Justice sayeth to me, it is not in the land. Money I required for the army to supply necessary wants, and could have but 200l., a bare proportion for to leave with an army. Now what any man can do with these wants I leave to your judgment. I hear the Queen mislikes that her service has gone no faster forward, but she suffereth all things needful to be supplied, to want. I would to God I could feed soldiers with the air, and throw down castles with my breath, and furnish naked men with a wish, and if these things might be done the service should on as fast as her Highness would have it. This is the second time that I have been suffered to want all these things, having the like charge that now I have, but there shall not be a third; for I protest I will sooner be committed as a prisoner by the heels than to be thus dealt with again; taking charge of service upon me. I am also beholding to some small friends that make (as I understand) the Queen mislike of me for the spoil of Youghal, who most traitorously have played the villains, as by their own examina[Pg 38]tion appeareth, an abstract of which I send to the Council, with letters written by the Earl of Desmond and his brethren to procure rebellion. There be here can write lies, as in writing Kilkenny was burned, before which, though it be a poor weak town, the rebels never came. They bragged they would spoil my country, but I hope if they do they will pay better for it than I did at the burning of theirs.’[31]

Burghley and Walsingham persuade the Queen.

Burghley and Walsingham strove hard to persuade the Queen that her economy would save nothing in the end, and Pelham’s wise obedience in discharging some pensioners conciliated her a little. But he told the ministers that there had been no such peril in Ireland since the conquest, and Burghley agreed that the fire could only be quenched by English power. The conflagration would be great if not checked before the spring, for the Pope stood ever ready to supply Spanish coals, and the barbarous people ever willing to receive them. But even Burghley thought some one was to blame for proclaiming Desmond before there were means to punish him. The Queen, he told Ormonde, had yielded at last; ‘money is sent, munition is in lading, and so is victualling for 2,000 men for three months, and for men to serve it is certain there are more in charge of the Queen’s pay than ever there were in Ireland those hundreds of years, and for anything we hear no open hostilities in any part of Ireland but these in Munster, so as now merely I must say Butleraboo, against all that cry as I hear in a new language Papeaboo. God send you only your heart’s desire, which I know is agreeable to mine, to banish or vanquish those cankered Desmonds and their sequels, and to plant again the Queen’s Majesty’s honour and reputation.... I and others have persuaded her Majesty that you may have authority to reclaim by offer of pardon all such as have offended, saving the Earl and his brothers, and such as murdered Davells, and such as have come from foreign parts to stir up the rebellion, among which I mean[Pg 39] Sanders, that viper, whom of all others the Queen’s Majesty is most desirous that you could take hold of.[32]

Miseries of Irish service.

Ormonde sent Zouch and Stanley to garrison Youghal, who lost two or three men in passing the Blackwater at Lismore. The Spaniards set fire to Strancally Castle, where some of the plunder had been stored, and ran out at the first sound of the English drums. Some were shot or drowned, and the remainder crossed over to Decies in boats, ‘where they were very friendly welcomed in sight of the soldiers.’ Sir James Fitzgerald of Dromana was loyal, but his followers preferred Desmond.

Stanley and Zouch went on to Youghal, driving before them 140 cows and 300 sheep, with which they fed their men. The poor soldiers suffered dreadfully from rain and cold, for they were penniless, and unroofed houses gave but scant shelter. For horses there was no food. Nor was this misery peculiar to Munster, since Athlone required repair to the extent of 500l., Maryborough and Philipstown did not keep their defenders dry, and the wall in each case was ready to fall into the ditch. Leighlin and Dungarvan were almost untenable. Dublin Castle was much dilapidated, and the timber of Kilmallock was rotting. English artificers must be brought over to repair damages, ‘for lack of skill and desire to gain by the work had been the ruin of all.’ On the other hand there were signs of wavering among the rebels. A ship with 400 soldiers from the Pope was driven ashore at Corunna, and four-fifths of the men perished. Sanders was suspected of wishing to steal away, and Desmond had him carefully watched.[33]

Foreign sympathisers.

At this juncture one French and one Spanish vessel arrived in Dingle Bay with letters for Desmond and earnest inquiries for Dr. Sanders. They were well received by the country people, and the bearers of the letters were conducted to Castle Island, where they found the men they sought. The foreigners said it had been reported at the French and[Pg 40] Spanish Courts that no Geraldine was left alive. Sanders ‘railed and reviled them’ for not performing their promises to perfect Christians; but they still maintained that 20,000 were ready in Spain to sail with James Fitzmaurice’s sons, and that France would also help as soon as the truth was known. One Owen O’Madden, a foster-brother of Desmond who was present, fell into Ormonde’s hands, and reported that Desmond and Clancare had solemnly sworn to join their forces; ‘which oath was ministered by Dr. Sanders, having a mass-book under their feet and a cloth spread over their heads.’ He believed that Lord Fitzmaurice would also join them. The confederacy would command a force of 600 gallowglasses, 1,600 kerne, and 80 horse, with 200 musketeers. Sympathy with the Geraldines was universal among the common people, but men who had something to lose were in no great hurry to commit themselves. ‘I suppose,’ said Pelham, ‘it is now considered that what foreign prince soever come, he will not allow to any freeholder more acres than he hath already, nor more free manner of life than they have under our Sovereign. And further I am told that some of the traitors themselves begin to consider that the invaders will put no great trust in those that do betray their natural prince and country.’[34]

The nature of Irish warfare.

Pelham left Waterford about the middle of February, having with great difficulty made such preparations as would give likelihood of a successful campaign. Unable to feed pack-horses he had his provisions carried by 300 strong countrymen, and he vigorously describes the pleasures of Irish warfare. ‘Touching the comparison between the soldier of Berwick and the soldier of Ireland, alleging him of Berwick to serve in greater toil... all the soldiers of Christendom must give place in that to the soldiers of Ireland; and so much difference for ease... as is between an alderman of London and a Berwick soldier.’ And surely, said Captain Zouch, ‘the wars here is most painful,[Pg 41] in respect that of force we make great and long journeys without victual, by which means we have great sicknesses, and, do what we can, we shall never fight with them unless they have a will to fight with us.’ But a good spirit prevailed, and some companies stood so much on their reputation that they begged to be mustered, in order that their wants might be known and supplied.

Pelham and Ormonde’s campaign.
State of Kerry.

Ormonde joined the Lord Justice at Clonmel, where it was arranged that the Butlers should guard the eastern end of the Aherlow fastness. Pelham proposed to make all the country from Askeaton to Dingle ‘as bare a country as ever Spaniard set his foot in.’ At Limerick he spent more than a fortnight listening to reports of what was going on in Kerry and in Spain, and waiting for Wallop and Maltby. On March 10, he met Ormonde at Rathkeale, and each assumed his own share in the work of destruction. The Earl took the Shannon side, the Lord Justice kept inland, spoiling the country far and wide, and meeting with no enemy. Near Shanet Castle, the original seat of the Desmonds, from which their war-cry was derived, the two camps were not far apart, and the country was scoured to the foot of the mountain in which the Feale and the Blackwater take their rise. According to the Four Masters, they killed ‘blind and feeble men, women, boys and girls, sick persons, idiots, and old people.’ Four hundred were killed in the woods on the first day, and everything that would burn was burned. The next camp was at Glin, where provisions had been collected, and thither came Lord Fitzmaurice, who thought it time to declare himself on the side of the strongest. Pelham and Ormonde then determined to cross the mountain into Kerry, having heard that ships with stores had arrived at Dingle. Desmond had already gone that way, in the belief that the ships were Spanish. Passing the Feale a little above Listowel, the army marched unopposed to Tralee, and on the march Patrick Fitzmaurice, heir of the house of Lixnaw, followed his father’s example. Everything between Castle Island and Tralee was already destroyed by the rebels, and Tralee itself was burned, with the exception of the abbey. Three hundred men, under[Pg 42] Sir William Stanley, were detached to Castlemaine, and Pelham and Ormonde started for Dingle, but were driven back by a furious snowstorm from the foot of the Corkaguiny mountains. In the meantime the ships had gone to the Shannon, and Pelham, having no means of feeding the men, was forced to withdraw Stanley’s division from Castlemaine. Clancare had promised to come to Tralee, but excused himself on account of the floods. The same reason prevented Pelham from recrossing the mountains, and he lost men and horses in fording the Feale near its mouth. The ships had arrived at Carrigafoyle, and immediate preparations were made to besiege the castle, which was held by nineteen Spaniards and fifty natives. The commandant was Captain Julian, ‘who reported himself to be a very notable engineer,’ and who had undertaken the defence at Lady Desmond’s request.

Siege of Carrigafoyle.
Fate of the garrison.

While the guns were being landed, Pelham went forward to view the place, and had a narrow escape from a shot. ‘The villains of Spaniards, and the traitors,’ said Ormonde, ‘railed like themselves at Her Majesty, especially the Spaniards, who had named the King of Spain King of Ireland, which, or it be long, God willing, they shall dearly pay for.’ Julian probably trusted in the strength of the castle, which was eighty-six feet high, surrounded by water, and defended by several outworks. On the land side there were two separate ditches, divided by a wall, and a strong earthwork. Vessels of 100 tons could go up to the wall at high tide. The pieces used in the attack were three cannons, one culver, and one culverin—not a formidable battery according to modern ideas, but too much for the old castle, even with Julian’s additional defences. The hyperbolical Four Masters say such guns had never yet been heard in those parts, and that their tremendous and terror-awakening roar penetrated every glen from Mizen Head to Tuam. A cannonade of six hours on two successive days was enough to make a practicable breach, both in the barbican and in the inner walls, which crushed many as they crumbled. The storming party soon mastered all but one turret, which stood farthest from the battery and was still intact. The fire was[Pg 43] directed upon this point, and two or three shots dislodged the garrison, of whom, says Zouch, ‘there escaped not one, neither man, woman, nor child.’ Those who swam were shot in the water, others were put to the sword, and a few who surrendered, including one woman, were hanged in the camp. Captain Julian was kept prisoner for two or three days and then hanged. The people began to curse Desmond for bringing all these misfortunes upon them. He answered that, if no help from Pope or Spaniard came before Whit Sunday, ‘he should seek a strange country and leave them to make their compositions.’ The castles of Balliloghan and Askeaton were abandoned by their defenders when they saw the fate of Carrigafoyle. Those at Askeaton escaped across the water, having made an unsuccessful attempt to blow up the castle. Pelham occupied this last stronghold, and the war was turned into a hunt.[35]

Maltby in Connaught.

Sanders and Desmond failed to rouse Connaught, which Maltby had retained after Drury’s death. Richard Burke, called Richard-in-Iron, husband of the redoubtable Grace O’Malley, alone ventured to take arms, in reliance upon the remoteness and natural strength of his country. He collected all the loose men of Connaught, and sent for 100 Scots bowmen from Ulster. But the Hebrideans were disinclined to join him, knowing that they would encounter English soldiers and a skilful leader. To prevent them from changing their minds, Maltby secured Sligo, through which they would have to pass. O’Connor Sligo, and O’Rourke—proudest man in Ireland though he was—agreed to Maltby’s terms, and kept their words as to excluding the Scots. He had two English companies, to which he added 100 native horse and 400 foot, who were to pay themselves in Richard-in-Iron’s country, and to cost the Queen nothing. Burke, with 1,000 men, had spoiled the devoted district about Athenry and the northern part of Roscommon, but he fell back to the shore of the Atlantic before Maltby could advance. When all was ready, he went from Athlone to Ballinasloe, where he hung six[Pg 44] malefactors, and to Athenry, where he hung another. At Clare Galway he met John and Ulick Burke, full of complaints against each other, between whom he made a truce till he had leisure to hear them. He then marched by Shrule and Ballintubber to Clew Bay. The fate of a castle held by a priest, who was Richard-in-Iron’s chief counsellor, is thus concisely described:—

‘I put the band, both men, women, and children, to the sword, whereupon all the other castles in the country were given up without any resistance.’ Grace O’Malley came to him with some of her kinsmen, but her husband took refuge with his forces in the islands in Clew Bay. Burrishoole Abbey, where Maltby encamped, was chosen by him as the site of a walled town, the people seeming very willing to have such a place among them, and MacWilliam Burke, who accompanied the governor of his own accord, offered land for its support. Richard-in-Iron, finding Maltby too strong for him, said he was ready to submit. Maltby sent for boats to Achill, but the weather was so bad that he could not reach the island for a week. In the meantime more than 100 of Richard’s followers had died of starvation—a little episode which shows what Irish warfare sometimes was. In the end Burke submitted to the garrison which Maltby left at Burrishoole. The return journey to Athlone was accomplished in deep snow. The starved pigs and sheep with lambs came out of the woods into the camp, but they were killed and eaten. During the siege of Carrigafoyle, Maltby was in Scattery Island, and in frequent communication with Pelham, whom he joined at Limerick after the capture of Askeaton.[36]

Man-hunting and cattle-lifting.

Pelham’s policy was to bridle the Desmond district with garrisons, who should be strong enough to eat up the country and to fatten themselves while the rebels starved. He hoped thus to localise the struggle in Kerry, which was too poor to maintain it unaided. The English fleet would look after the seaboard. The garrisons seem to have performed perfectly their rather inglorious duties. Captains Hollings[Pg 45]worth and George Carew had 400 foot at Askeaton, but no horse, the soil being already too bare to support them. The soldiers drove in all the sheep and cows in their neighbourhood, and killed twenty-five of the miserable people who ventured to protect their own. Sir George Bourchier, who had two companies and a troop of horse at Kilmallock, scoured the woods in the Maigue district, and killed sixty rebels in a skirmish, making good his retreat and keeping his spoils. Captain Walker, who held Adare with 200 men, met Desmond himself on one of his forays. The Earl had about 600 followers, who stood well to their pikes for a time, but were ultimately worsted with great loss. Captain Dowdall occupied Cashel with 300 men. With the help of Lord Dunboyne, he penetrated Aherlow wood, and brought off 300 cows and ponies. Pelham himself lay chiefly at Limerick, endeavouring to do his part by diplomacy, while Ormonde was securing his own district against Piers Grace and other marauders.[37]

Gathering at Limerick.

The 10th of May was appointed by the Lord Justice for a general assembly of the Munster lords at Limerick. Ormonde duly appeared, bringing with him White, the Master of the Rolls, who had just returned from England, Lords Dunboyne and Power, and Sir James Fitzgerald, of Decies. Lord Roche and his son Maurice, who had for a time been in rebellion, and Sir Thomas, of Desmond, came from Cork, and two days later they were followed by Lord Barry and by Sir Cormac MacTeigue. Thomond also attended. None of the western chiefs came, but Lord Fitzmaurice took the precaution of sending an excuse.

A new peer.

Sir William Burke, whose son had lost his life in taking that of James Fitzmaurice, received his patent as Baron of Castle Connell, and was invested by Pelham. ‘The poor old gentleman,’ says White with a certain pathos, ‘made many grateful speeches in his language, and afterwards, partly from joy at his own promotion, partly from some natural remembrance of his child, and partly from the unwonted straitness of his new robes, fell suddenly in a swoon at the Lord Justice’s table, so as he was like to have been made and[Pg 46] unmade all of a day.’ Seeing no hopes of many more, Pelham conferred with those who were present. Lords Barry and Roche were sworn to forego their private quarrels and to join with Sir Cormac in prosecuting the rebels, under Ormonde’s directions, and particularly in keeping them out of the county of Cork. A like arrangement was made for Waterford, and Ormonde was to encamp at or near Kilmallock. The deliberations at Limerick were concluded by a volley of three or four hundred shots. Pelham himself decided to visit Kerry. As the plot thickened round Desmond, Dr. Sanders redoubled his assurances that help was coming from Spain. Six thousand Italians were reported to be in the Asturias, ready to sail. The Lord Justice believed himself well able to deal with invaders; but want of provisions and arrears of pay in the Queen’s army helped the rebels more effectually than any foreigners could do.[38]

More hares than people.
An Earl’s house.
Desmond, Pelham, and Ormonde.

After many delays Pelham and Ormonde prepared to enter Kerry together. The Earl lay for some time at Cashel, where he enjoyed the society of Sir Nicholas White. The Master of the Rolls complained, with an odd professional conceit, that he had to sleep in the Star Chamber—that is, in the open air. Clancare’s eldest son was also in the camp, and Ormonde declared that if the father wavered in his allegiance he would ‘graft him to the highest tree in his country. ‘In the meantime they probably amused themselves with coursing, for White says her Majesty had many countries forsaken of the people, but well stocked with hares. Pelham left Askeaton on June 11, joined the Adare garrison, and marched up the Maigue valley to Bruree. Edward Fenton, who had an eye for scenery rare in those days, was struck by the pleasantness of the scene. The neighbourhood was explored next day, but neither rebels nor cows were caught in any numbers, and the army crossed the hills which divide Limerick from Cork. Ormonde broke up his camp and joined the Lord Justice near Buttevant, where Lord[Pg 47] Roche came to pay his respects, but offered very little help in the way of provisions. Pelham noted this in silence, and led the whole army up the Blackwater, driving the MacCarthies and O’Callaghans with their cattle into the vast woods. Then followed a toilsome and dangerous march through the hills to Castle Island, the Lord Justice riding in advance and taking up the ground himself. ‘The island,’ says White, and the ruins attest it, ‘is a huge, monstrous castle of many rooms, but very filthy and full of cowdung. ‘Desmond and Sanders had but just time to escape, and the Earl’s store of whiskey, the Countess ‘kerchers,’ and certain sacerdotal vestments, which Pelham calls masking furniture, fell into English hands. White secured the sanctus bell, a cruciform lectern, and the cover of a chalice. ‘Never,’ he says, ‘was the bad Earl and his legate a latere so bested in his own privy chamber and county palatine of Kerry.’ The bell and lectern went to his patron, Burghley, ‘with remainder to Mrs. Blanche as toys.’ The valley of the Maine was full of cattle, but the soldiers were too tired to do much. Some horsemen, who were fresher than the rest, managed to bring in 1,500 kine and 2,000 sheep. Desmond and his wife had a narrow escape, being carried on men’s shoulders through the bogs. The best of the cattle were driven off into Clanmaurice, but Lord Fitzmaurice and his son Patrick came into the camp. While Pelham was at Castlemaine, Ormonde searched the recesses of Glenflesk, where he found no cattle, but many of the Munster chieftains, Clancarties, O’Callaghan, MacAuliffe, O’Donoghue More, and MacGibbon. All offered their services, and he took them with him to Pelham at Castlemaine. Thus accompanied, the whole army marched to Dingle, having first erected a breastwork to protect the cattle which had been taken.[39]

Dingle found in ruins.
The peasantry starving.

At Dingle they found the squadron under Winter. Pelham dined on board the admiral, and afterwards went[Pg 48] round the fleet, the ‘Swallow’ firing a royal salute when he went ashore. Over 8,000 pounds of biscuit and 10 tuns of beer were sent round to Castlemaine. Dingle was found razed to the ground by John of Desmond, though the merchants’ houses had been ‘very strong and built castle-wise.’ The inhabitants—Bonvilles, Hallys, Scurlocks, Knolts, Sleynys, Angelis, Goldings, Horgetts, Rices, and Trants—hung about their ruined homes, cursing John of Desmond, the Knight of Kerry, and Dr. Sanders, as the root of all their calamities. The ‘Merlin’ was sent to ransack the numerous harbours between Dingle and Cork, and Pelham and Winter scoured the country; on one occasion amusing themselves by robbing an eagle’s nest. The Lord Justice came by chance upon a deserted bakehouse belonging to the Knight of Kerry, and converted a barrel of meal into bread, from the want of which he had suffered much. After exploring both shores of Dingle Bay, even sending light vessels to the Blaskets, lest cattle should be harboured in those sea-beaten islands, Winter and Pelham returned to Castlemaine, and came suddenly upon a vast herd of cows, not less than 4,000 or 5,000, which they drove into their entrenchments, and slaughtered for the use of the fleet. The starving people of the county besought Winter for God’s sake to give them something to eat, and he left them twelve or thirteen cows, a few goats, and 400 sheep, the distribution being entrusted to one MacMorris, a steward of Desmond’s, who had deserted, and from whom some service was expected. The works made for the protection of the prey were then razed, and the fleet sailed for Berehaven.[40]

Ormonde’s raid.
An Irish palace.

Ormonde accompanied Pelham to Dingle and left him taking in provisions from the fleet, while he went to look for James of Desmond in O’Sullivan More’s country. He had to pass round the bottom of Dingle Bay through Clancare’s territory, and that Earl met him and acted as guide. The expedition was not expected, and 1,000 cows were taken; but Ormonde’s followers were closely pursued by O’Sullivan’s sons.[Pg 49] Many of the chief’s tenants sided with the strongest, and with their help the cattle were brought away. Beef and water formed the only sustenance of Ormonde’s men, but they did not lag in their work of destruction, and the fires which they raised in Valentia were seen across the bay at Ventry. Pelham returned to Castlemaine, where Ormonde, ‘sore broken in his feet with rocks,’ joined him after a foray of five or six days. He brought with him Clancare, O’Sullivan Bere, and O’Sullivan More, ‘Mac Fynyn of the kerne,’ MacDonogh, O’Keefe, O’Callaghan, MacAuliffe, O’Donoghue More, and all the other chiefs of Desmond except O’Donoghue of Glenflesk, who remained with the traitor earl. The combined forces of Pelham and Ormonde encamped between Pallice and Dunloe by the lower lake of Killarney, ‘the famous lake called Lough Leane.’ Sir N. White notes forty islands, an abbey—Innisfallen—in one, a parish church in another, in a third a castle, ‘out of which came to us a fair lady, the rejected wife of Lord Fitzmaurice, daughter to the late MacCarthy More, eldest brother to this earl.’ Edward Fenton was struck by the beauty of the scene, and interested by the report of large mussels containing pearls; but he was even more struck by Clancare’s castle, ‘called the Palace, a name very unfit for so beggarly a building, not answerable to a mean farmer’s house in England, and his entertainment much like to his dwelling.’ O’Sullivan More’s castle of Dunloe had been razed by Ormonde during his first expedition against James Fitzmaurice. Leaving Killarney, the army explored Glenflesk, which White, with Virgil and Cacus in his mind, calls a ‘famous spelunce.’ But they saw neither men, monsters, nor cattle, and crossed into the upper valley of the Blackwater without any fighting. Near Kanturk Ormonde recovered his heavy baggage which he had left behind on first entering the mountains, and the whole army then marched by Mallow to Cork. The citizens, who were half-starved themselves, were very slow to relieve their wants, but at last agreed to send Pelham 100l., to give 100l. worth of wine on credit, and 100l. worth of friezes, brogues, and stockings. Many soldiers had broken down for want of bread. They could do anything,[Pg 50] White said, ‘if they had but bread, the lack whereof is their only overthrow, and nothing else.’[41]

Great gathering at Cork
Ormonde’s speech.

In White’s quaint language, all the lords and chiefs ‘cisalpine and transalpine the mountains of Slieve Logher,’ were present at Cork. Pelham found that nearly as many Barries as Geraldines were in rebellion; but nevertheless Lord Barrymore stood the stiffest on his defence. The rest had very little to say for themselves, and Ormonde bitterly upbraided them, ‘charging himself with their faults for making of Her Majesty to conceive so well of them.’ Desmond, he says, was their ancient scourge and enemy, and as they had favoured him he would cast them off and bid each shift for himself. He would utterly refuse their friendship and spend his blood against them all and against all Her Majesty’s enemies, ‘advising such as loved him to follow his ways, and such as would not bade them defiance, swearing a great oath and clapping his hand upon the Bible, that if Her Majesty did proclaim them traitors with the rest he would lay it on their skins, and in conclusion advised the Lord Justice to carry them all with him to Limerick till better order were taken with them.’ All were received to mercy except Lord Barrymore, who was committed for trial. ‘He is,’ said Ormonde, ‘an arrant Papist, who a long time kept in his house Dr. Tanner, made bishop here by the Pope, who died in my Lord of Upper Ossory’s house, being secretly kept there. Believe me, Mr. Secretary, you shall find my Lord of Upper Ossory as bad a man as may be.’ Pelham took Clancare, Barrymore, and several others with him, and, having been delayed at Mallow by a summer flood in the Blackwater, arrived at Limerick without further adventure. He professed himself fairly satisfied with the progress made. Frequent inroads, and still more the steady pressure of the garrisons, would soon starve out the rebels, unless help came from abroad. In that case, he said, ‘I look their strength will be infinitely multiplied.’[42]

[Pg 51]

Rebellion of Viscount Baltinglas.

As if to fill the time till the Spaniards came, a movement now began which defeated Pelham’s calculations. The new rebel was James Eustace, who had lately succeeded his father as Viscount Baltinglas, and who was an enthusiastic Catholic. He was already connected with the turbulent O’Byrnes, and his father had been in opposition on the cess question; but it is clear that religion was the chief motive. Before he succeeded to the title, Sanders and others persuaded him to go to Rome, and what he saw there under Gregory XIII. had exactly a contrary effect on him to what the Rome of Leo X. had upon Luther. On his return he heard mass, boldly gloried in the fact before the Ecclesiastical Commission, and was mulcted in the statutable fine of 100 marks, Sidney quaintly declaring that he could not countenance ‘Papistry and abolished religion.’ Loftus was told to exact the money or a bond, and to imprison in default. The young lord went to gaol for twenty-four hours, and was pardoned on signing the bond. But fine and imprisonment never convince, though they sometimes silence, and Baltinglas was in no way changed by what courtly officials called her Majesty’s godly proceedings. ‘I mean,’ he wrote to a Waterford merchant, ‘to take this holy enterprise in hand by the authority of the Supreme Head of the Church.’

Baltinglas and Ormonde.

The letter fell into Ormonde’s hands, and the bearer seems to have been hanged in chains. Ormonde had already warned the Viscount to be careful, and he now sent an answer which at once committed him irretrievably and almost without hope of pardon. He said he had been commanded to take the sword by the highest power on earth, and would maintain the truth to the extent of his means.

‘Questionless,’ he added, ‘it is great want of knowledge, and more of grace, to think and believe that a woman uncapax of all holy orders, should be the supreme governor of Christ’s Church; a thing that Christ did not grant unto his own mother. If the Queen’s pleasure be, as you allege, to minister justice, it were time to begin; for in this twenty[Pg 52] years’ part of her reign we have seen more damnable doctrine maintained, more oppressing of poor subjects, under pretence of justice, within this land than ever we read or heard.... If Thomas Becket, the Bishop of Canterbury, had never suffered death in the defence of the Church, Thomas Butler, alias Becket, had never been Earl of Ormonde.’[43] Ormonde sent the letter by express to Walsingham, for the Queen’s eye, characterising it as ‘foolish, traitorous, popish, and devil-persuaded,’ praying that God might confound all her unnatural subjects and give her victory over all His enemies.

‘Sir, I pray you tell her Majesty that poor Lucas will remain constant in the true faith, whoever follow the Pope and do the contrary, and that neither Becket nor Canterbury shall alter him.’

A Catholic confederacy.

It was a year of great activity among the English Catholics. Parsons and Campion had just landed; the air teemed with rumours, and papers were freely circulated to prepare men for something extraordinary. A Devonshire gentleman named Eve brought one of these to Waterford, and it was not calculated to make the task of the Irish Government easier. Ten or twelve thousand men from the Pope, rather more from the King of Spain, and rather fewer from the Duke of Florence, were expected to invade England, and there to reassert the Pope’s lawful sovereignty. Elizabeth was declared ineligible, both as bastard and as heretic, to wear the vassal crown, and it was proposed to publish the Bull of excommunication in every Christian church and court. The English Catholic nobles were, however, to be allowed to crown one of their own number, who was to be independent of Spain, but her faithful ally in reducing the Hollanders. All Church lands were to be restored. The importer of this notable scheme was arrested by the Mayor of Waterford, and sent in irons to Clonmel, with his companion, a merchant of Bridgewater, to be dealt with by Pelham. We may, however, be sure that for one such pro[Pg 53]duction intercepted, many escaped the notice of the officials, and that Baltinglas had reason to expect support from outside. But he probably rested his hopes mainly upon the help of his neighbours, and even fancied he could get Kildare to join him.[44]

Attitude of Kildare.

On July 14th, nearly a fortnight before the insurrection actually broke out, the Archbishop of Dublin met Kildare on the legendary hill of Tara. Baltinglas was only two miles off, and in charge of the Earl’s own troop. Kildare had been told everything, and he informed Loftus that the Viscount and other Papists had conspired and were ready to rebel. ‘The first exploit they will do,’ he said, ‘is to kill you and me; you, for the envy they bear to your religion, and me, for that being taken away, they think there is no one to make head against them.’ Dr. Loftus indeed might have had a bad chance had he fallen into their hands, but there is no likelihood that they had any murderous intention towards Kildare. The threat was probably used as likely to have weight with one whose sympathies were already more than half-gained: The Archbishop pressed the Earl to arrest the traitor and more than once received an evasive answer; but at last Kildare confessed what was doubtless the true cause of his inaction. ‘I should heap to myself universally the hatred and illwill of my country, and pull upon my house and posterity for ever the blame.’ At last he agreed to make an appointment with Baltinglas, and to arrest him, provided the Archbishop had an agent present to charge him on his allegiance. In the meantime he went to the Viscount several times in a quiet way, and did nothing until he and Feagh MacHugh O’Byrne were in actual rebellion. After this Baltinglas wrote to tell the Earl that he had unfurled his Holiness’s banner, and asking for an interview at the bridge of Ballymore Eustace. Kildare not appearing, he wrote again to express his regret and to urge him to join the good cause. ‘I trust therefore the day shall never come[Pg 54] that strangers shall say that when Christ’s banner was in the field on the one side, and the banner of heresy on the other side, that the Earl of Kildare’s forces were openly seen to stand under the heretical banner.’ The charming was not particularly wise, yet Kildare did not altogether refuse to hear it. In the end he so managed matters as to alienate both sides.[45]

Results of Pelham’s proceedings.

At the very moment that Baltinglas broke out, Lord Grey de Wilton’s patent as Deputy was signed in England. Pelham had but a few weeks of authority left, and he did not pass them in idleness. By the advice of Sir Warham St. Leger, and with the consent of Ormonde, he detained most of the Munster lords and chiefs at Limerick; and, having thus laid hands on the shepherds, he proceeded to make his own terms with the flock. ‘My manner of prosecuting,’ he wrote to the Queen, ‘it is thus: I give the rebels no breath to relieve themselves, but by one of your garrisons or other they be continually hunted. I keep them from their harvest, and have taken great preys of cattle from them, by which it seemeth the poor people that lived only upon labour, and fed by their milch cows, are so distressed as they follow their goods and offer themselves with their wives and children rather to be slain by the army than to suffer the famine that now in extremity beginneth to pinch them. And the calamity of these things have made a division between the Earl and John of Desmond, John and Sanders seeking for relief to fall into the company and fellowship of the Viscount Baltinglas; and the Earl, without rest anywhere, flieth from place to place, and maketh mediation for peace by the Countess, whom yesterday I licensed to have speech with me at Askeaton, whose abundance of tears betrayed sufficiently the miserable estate both of herself, her husband, and their followers.’ It was by just such means that Mountjoy afterwards put down a much greater rebellion and a much abler rebel than Desmond, and those Englishmen who knew Ireland best could see no alternative. ‘It shall be found,[Pg 55]’ said Bagenal, ‘how severely and thoroughly good Sir William Pelham hath handled Munster; as in all his government here he deserved with the best that preceded him, so in that wrought he good perfection, and so weakened the traitors there, that John Desmond is fled to Leinster, where he is to salve his drained estate with Baltinglas. His own actions, if his commendation should be withdrawn, will sufficiently express his desert.’[46]

Terms offered to the repentant.
Death of Sir James of Desmond.

All important persons who sued for mercy were first required to imbrue their hands in some better blood than their own, and special services in proportion to their rank were required of leading rebels. Rory MacSheehy, a noted captain of the Desmond gallowglasses, was given to understand that he could have a pardon if he gave up Sanders alive. Sir John of Desmond sought to confer with St. Leger; he was told that he could have his own life by giving up his eldest brother, Dr. Sanders, and the seneschal of Imokilly. Sanders himself might perhaps be spared, if he would lay bare the whole network of foreign intrigue. The detained magnates were let loose one by one as they seemed likely to do service. Sir Cormac MacTeige MacCarthy was sheriff of Cork; he made humble submission, confessed his negligence, took a new oath, and departed with 150 English soldiers under Captain Apsley and Captain Dering. Soon afterwards Sir James of Desmond entered Muskerry and collected 2,000 of Sir Cormac’s cattle, which he proposed to drive off into the mountains west of Macroon. The sheriff came up with him, and a skirmish followed, in which Sir James was wounded and taken. He was carried from Carrigadrohid to Blarney and thence to Cork, where he was tried and condemned, having in vain begged for summary decapitation to avoid a public trial. After two months, during which he gave earnest attention to religious subjects, he was hanged, drawn, and quartered, or as the Four Masters say, cut into little pieces, dying a fervent Catholic and, as his enemies allowed, ‘a yielding to Godward a better end than otherwise[Pg 56] he would have done if he had not died the death.’ ‘And thus,’ says Hooker, ‘the pestilent hydra hath lost another of his heads.’[47]

Munster chiefs in trouble.

Lord Fitzmaurice was at liberty, but his two sons were detained at Limerick, and he was told that he could only make his peace by intercepting Desmond or the Seneschal, or at the very least by procuring the release of Sir James Fitzgerald, of Decies, who was imprisoned in Kerry by the rebels. Sir Owen O’Sullivan Bere it was thought safe to keep at Limerick; but his neighbour Sir Owen MacCarthy Reagh was released, his tanist Donell na Pipy being retained as a hostage. Clancare had been protected by Ormonde, and the engagement was kept, but he was required to leave his son, Lord Valentia, in pledge. Lord Barrymore remained contumacious, and was sent to Dublin Castle, his sons being encouraged to come in under protection, but St. Leger was told to keep them safe until they offered good security. Sir Warham, who was always for harsh courses, advised that the father should be executed and his estate confiscated. The example, he thought, would be salutary, and the land would pay the whole cost of the war.[48]

Narrow escapes of Sanders and John of Desmond,

In the meantime the garrisons were busy. Sir George Bourchier was near taking a rich prize at Kilmallock. During a night foray, the soldiers fell in accidentally with Sanders and John of Desmond. Sir John was wounded, and both he and Sanders were over an hour in company with the soldiers, whose suspicions they disarmed by exhorting them, in English, to slay the Irish. An Englishman in Sanders’ service was taken and killed by the soldiers, because he would confess nothing. James O’Hea, a friar of Youghal, was made prisoner, and gave important information.

who contrive to join Baltinglas.

A division of opinion had arisen between Desmond on the one hand, and his brother Sanders on the other. The Earl[Pg 57] was inclined to sue for peace, but the others were determined to fight it out to the last. Finding themselves straitened in Kerry, they made their way to Leinster, where Baltinglas eagerly expected them. With about five-and-twenty followers, they passed through the glen of Aherlow, and crossed North Tipperary into the Queen’s County, where they were helped by the remnant of the O’Mores, and by the veteran Piers Grace, until they joined the O’Byrnes near the border of Wicklow. They had an escape on the road, which Pelham called strange, and which a Catholic writer evidently thought miraculous. They met Ormonde—or more probably one of his brothers—who called out that they were in the net. ‘A sudden tempest,’ we are told, ‘arose on a fine day—whether at the Doctor’s prayers, or not, God knows—and the rain was so thick that the Earl, with the ministers of Satan, could not advance against the Catholics, nor even hold up their heads for a whole hour.’ The fugitives, who had the wind at their backs, threw away all superfluous weight, and escaped. Having lost their best leader, the Munster rebels sought terms for themselves. Baltinglas summoned Desmond himself to join him, for defence of the Catholic faith, but the Earl’s people said they were starving, and could endure no longer war; and they openly reviled Sanders as the cause of all their misery.[49]

Desmond almost surrenders,
but changes his mind
when a new governor comes.

Wearied by want of bread and all comforts, the rebel Earl began to feel that the game was up, and he besought Winter to give him a passage to England. Pelham did not object, provided the surrender was unconditional; but would allow no agents to pass, nor the Countess to go over without her husband. The poor lady’s tears showed him that her cause was desperate. Chief Secretary Fenton was principally struck by her impudence in venturing to defend her husband’s conduct. Pelham was inclined to believe that they both meant nothing but villainy, and were only seeking time to get in[Pg 58] the harvest, and he directed Bourchier at Kilmallock, and Case at Askeaton, to give the fugitive Earl no rest for the sole of his foot. The hunted wretch might have surrendered to Winter had it not been for the change of government, which, both before and since, in Ireland, has often been wrongly supposed to denote a change of policy. He had perhaps been told that Grey’s orders from the Queen were to treat him leniently. At all events he changed his tone, though he had but 120 gallowglasses with him. These men clamoured loudly and vainly for their quarter’s pay, and the camp was followed by a horde of poor starving creatures, who begged such scraps as unpaid soldiers could give. In spite of all this, Desmond now declared that he would yield to Grey only, for that he remembered former hard treatment in England, and doubted that it would be worse than ever. And so the matter stood when Pelham, who had himself desired to be relieved, received the order to go to Dublin, and there surrender the sword to his successor. He had declared himself willing to serve under the new governor in Munster, with or without the title of Lord President, and the latter was directed to take advantage of his zeal, his experience, and his martial skill. As it was, he left Ireland on the nominal ground of health, perhaps because he could not get on with Grey, or because the Queen was frightened at the expense. He afterwards found work in the Netherlands, and Bourchier was left in charge of Munster with the rank of Colonel, Ormonde having enough to do in defending his own country against the Leinster insurgents.[50]


[22] Drury to Walsingham, Aug. 23, 1579; Walsingham’s letters of Aug. 5, 6, and 7; E. Tremayne to Burghley, Aug. 5; Proportions of victual, &c. Aug. 24; Wallop to Walsingham, Aug. 27, and Sept. 3, 4, and 14; Instructions to Sir John Perrott, Aug. 19.

[23] Lord Justice and Earl of Kildare to the Privy Council, Aug. 3, 1579; Waterhouse to Walsingham, Aug. 22; Gerard to Walsingham, Wilson, and Burghley, Sept. 10, 15, and 16; Drury to Walsingham, Sept. 14 and 17; Wallop to Burghley, Sept. 20. Drury died Sept. 30, and what Sanders said about him is in a letter of Feb. 21, 1580, printed in Strype’s Parker, appendix 77.

[24] Maltby to Walsingham, Oct. 12, 1579, with enclosures.

[25] Maltby to Walsingham, Oct. 12, 1579, and to Leicester, April 8, 1580; The Jesuit Allen is not mentioned by the Four Masters, by O’Sullivan, by O’Daly, or by several other Irish authorities, but frequently by Hooker, who says he was Irish-born. Russell mentions him, but calls him an English priest, and this seems probable.

[26] Ormonde to Walsingham, July 27 and August 10, 1579; Desmond to Ormonde and also to some powerful person at court Oct. 10; and the letters in Carew from Oct. 17 to Nov. 1.

[27] Waterhouse to Walsingham, Nov. 4, 1579. The proclamation is in Carew, under Nov. 2.

[28] Ormonde to Walsingham, Nov. 7, 1579; Walsingham to Waterhouse, Nov. 8; Pelham to Wilson, Nov. 28; to the Queen, Dec. 15 and 28; and many other letters in Carew.

[29] O’Sullivan Bere, ii. iv. 15; Pelham to Burghley, Nov. 28, 1579; Arthur and White to Maltby, Nov. 27; St. Leger to Ormonde, Dec. 1; Ormonde to Burghley, Dec. 27; Pelham to Burghley, Jan. 27, 1580. Abstract of examinations Jan. 4, 1580. Hooker says Desmond’s horde took five days to collect the spoils, and that Ormonde sent an armed vessel which recovered some guns, but that her master was killed. See also the examination of Friar James O’Hea in Carew, Aug. 17, 1580, and the petition of Anyas, Burgomaster of Youghal, Sept. 9, 1583. Edmund Tanner, S.J., to the General of the Jesuits, Oct. 11, 1577, in Hibernia Ignatiana.

[30] Pelham to the Irish Council, Jan. 26, 1580, in Carew. Ormonde to Burghley, Dec. 27, 1579; Wallop to Burghley, Dec. 29; Letters of Dec. 3, in Carew; Hooker.

[31] Ormonde to Walsingham, Jan. 4, 1580; Burghley to Ormonde, Jan. 26; Pelham to Wallop, Feb. 9; to the Privy Council, Feb. 28; to Walsingham, May 20; Lord Justice and Council to the Privy Council, Jan. 29: the four last in Carew.

[32] Burghley to Pelham, Dec. 30, 1579; and to Ormonde, Jan. 26, 1580.

[33] Pelham to Burghley, Feb. 4, 1580; Waterhouse to Walsingham, Feb. 3; G. Fenton to Burghley, Feb. 18; Lord Justice and Council to the Privy Council, Jan. 29, in Carew.

[34] Pelham to Wallop, Feb. 9, 1580; to the Privy Council, Feb. 10 and 28; to the Queen and to Leicester, Feb. 16; Lord Roche to Ormonde, Feb. 11: all these in Carew.

[35] Pelham to the Queen and to Burghley, April 1, 1580; and to the Queen, April 5; Zouch to Walsingham, April 8. Hooker.

[36] Discourse of Sir N. Maltby’s proceedings, April 8, 1580, and his letter to Walsingham of that date.

[37] Pelham to the Privy Council, April 11 and 16, 1580, in Carew.

[38] Pelham to the Privy Council, May 20; James Golde to Leicester, May 20; White, M.R., to Leicester, May 31, all in Carew. White to Burghley, May 31; Pelham to the Queen. May 18.

[39] Sir N. White, M.R., to Burghley, Walsingham, and Leicester, May 31, 1580, the last in Carew; Journal of Occurrences, July 2; Pelham to Wallop, June 21; Edw. Fenton to Walsingham, July 11; Ormonde to Walsingham, July 21; White, M.R., to Walsingham, July 22; Pelham to the Privy Council, July 9, in Carew.

[40] Chiefly from Journal of Occurrences, July 2.

[41] Edw. Fenton to Walsingham, July 11; Ormonde to same, July 21; White M.R. to same, July 22; Pelham to the Privy Council, July 4 and 8 in Carew.

[42] White M.R. to the Privy Council, July 22, 1580, where Ormonde’s speech is given; Ormonde to Walsingham, July 21; Pelham and his Council to the Privy Council, July 9 and 12, in Carew.

[43] Baltinglas to Ormonde, received before July 24, 1580, to R. Walshe, July 18; Ormonde to Walsingham, July 24. I believe the connection of the Butlers with the Beckets has never been proved.

[44] Eve’s seditious libel, July 3; Pelham to the Mayor of Waterford, July 26, in Carew.

[45] Baltinglas to Kildare, July 22, 1580; Deputy Grey to the Queen, Dec. 23; Earls of Kildare, ii. 198 sqq.

[46] Pelham to the Queen, Aug. 12, 1580, in Carew; Sir N. Bagenal to Leicester, Oct. 3, in Wright’s Elizabeth.

[47] Pelham to Lord Fitzmaurice, July 27, 1580; to St. Leger, Aug. 15; the Estate wherein Pelham left Munster, Aug. 28: these three in Carew. St. Leger and P. Grant to Ormonde, Aug. 6; St. Leger to Burghley, Oct 9.

[48] Pelham to Burghley, July 15, 1580; to St. Leger, Aug. 26; the latter in Carew. State in which Pelham left Ireland, Aug. 28, in Carew. St. Leger to Burghley, July 15.

[49] Paper by J. Holing, S.J., in Spicilegium Ossoriense, i. 94. Pelham to Bourchier, Aug. 5, 1580; to the Queen, Aug. 12; to Winter, Aug. 16; State in which Pelham left Ireland, Aug. 28; all in Carew. G. Fenton to Burghley and Leicester, Aug. 8; Wallop to Walsingham, Aug. 9.

[50] Pelham to Winter, Aug. 24, 1580; Winter to Pelham, Aug. 24; Directions to Sir G. Bourchier, Aug. 28: all in Carew. Gerard, White, M.R., and Wallop to Burghley, Oct. 7; Wallop to Walsingham, Sept. 28; Grey to the Queen, Oct. 5. Grey landed Aug. 12, and was sworn in Sept. 7.

[Pg 59]



Lord Grey’s instructions.

Whatever private hints the Queen might give to Grey, his official instructions contained nothing to Desmond’s advantage. On the contrary, he was warned to avoid the common fault of former governors, who had been too easy in granting pardons to notorious transgressors of the law, and had thereby bred boldness in subjects prone to offend. In future, pardons were not to be given without good reasons, nor at all in general terms, but only for some specified offence. On the other hand the Queen was anxious to have it known that she did not wish to extirpate the inhabitants of Ireland, as it had been falsely and maliciously reported. Outrages committed by soldiers were to be severely punished, and officers of high rank were not to be exempt. The rebellion was to be put down as quickly as possible, so that her Majesty’s charge might be reduced. Grey landed on August 12, but the sword of state was still in Munster, and he could not take the oath without it. Baltinglas and Feagh MacHugh O’Byrne were in force not much more than twenty miles from Dublin, and he resolved to attack them before Pelham’s arrival.[51]

State of the Pale.

Whatever hopes Desmond himself may have had from Grey, the change of government was not favourable to the chances of a rebellion near Dublin. The advent of a governor of high rank generally signified increased force, a more liberal expenditure of money, and more activity in official circles. Lord Chancellor Gerard had just landed on a[Pg 60] part of the coast over which Baltinglas was for the moment supreme; and the latter had unaccountably neglected to make him a hostage. ‘Compared with the rest of his doings,’ said Pelham, ‘this doth argue that both he and his followers be the most foolish traitors that ever I heard of.’ The Chancellor reported that all the Leinster chiefs as well as O’Neill, O’Donnell, O’Rourke, and O’Connor Sligo were sworn to Baltinglas, and that he had the hearts of the whole country. The rebels had burned Harrington’s town of Newcastle, and openly displayed the Pope’s banner; but Kildare seemed to stand firm, and comforted the Chancellor by abusing the captains for giving false musters, saying that the Queen paid for 1,300 when she had only 700. But his most trusted follower, Gerald Fitzmaurice, had joined the rebels with his company. Sir William Stanley brought reinforcements from England, but in such plight as to argue no great probability of good service. Out of 120 calivers scarce twenty were serviceable, and the men were raw, ill-provided with necessaries, and fewer than their leader had been given to expect. The captains, blamed by Kildare, said their pay was at least three months in arrear, and of course all their men were discontented. Gormanston lay at Naas with 500 men, but the distrust was so general that Archbishop Loftus believed the throats of all Englishmen were about to be cut. ‘Unless strangers land,’ the Chancellor remarked, ‘I mistrust; and if they do I am of the Archbishop’s mind.’ Meanwhile the country south of Dublin was at the mercy of the rebels, and it was easy to know who sympathised with them. ‘They religiously prey,’ said Gerard, ‘overskipping some, many have taken oaths not to fight against them.’ 2,000 Scots were plundering loyal people in Ulster, and it was hard to see where it was to stop.[52]

Grey attacks the Irish in Glenmalure.

Baltinglas and Feagh MacHugh lay in the valley of the[Pg 61] Liffey, somewhere about Ballymore Eustace. On the approach of Grey’s army from the side of Naas they withdrew into Glenmalure, a deep and rocky fortress—a combe, as the Devonian Hooker calls it—to the N.E. of Lugnaquilla. The glen was thickly wooded, and at least four miles long, and Colonel George Moore was ordered to enter it with about half the army. Grey was more a knight-errant than a general, and he determined to attack at once and in front, though warned by those about him of the risk he was running. His object was to drive the rebels from the covert, so that they might be shot or ridden down on the open hillside. Old Francis Cosby, general of the Queen’s kerne, who was a man of extraordinary personal courage and of unrivalled experience in Irish warfare, foresaw the danger; but he was not listened to, and he boldly advanced to what he believed to be almost certain death. Jacques Wingfield, the Master of the Ordinance, who doubtless remembered his own overthrow nineteen years before, was present with his two nephews, Peter and George Carew, and he vainly tried to dissuade them from risking their lives. ‘If I lose one,’ he then urged, ‘yet will I keep the other,’ and George, reserved, as Camden says, for greater things, consented to stay by his uncle. Sir Peter, with Captain Audley and Lieutenant Parker, were with Colonel Moore in front, while Sir Henry Bagenal and Sir William Stanley brought up the rear. ‘When we entered,’ says Stanley, ‘the foresaid glen, we were forced to slide sometimes three or four fathoms ere we could stay our feet. It was in depth at least a mile, full of stones, rocks, bogs, and wood; in the bottom a river full of loose stones, which we were driven to cross divers times. So long as our leaders kept the bottom, the odds were on our side. But our colonel, being a corpulent man, before we were half through the glen, being four miles in length, led us up the hill that was a long mile in height; it was so steep that we were forced to use our hands as well to climb as our feet, and the vanward being gone up the hill, we must of necessity follow.... It was the hottest piece of service for the time that ever I saw in any place. I was in the rearward,[Pg 62] and with me twenty-eight soldiers of mine, whereof were slain eight, and hurt ten. I had with me my drum, whom I caused to sound many alarms, which was well answered by them that was in the rearward, which stayed them from pulling us down by the heels. But I lost divers of my dear friends. They were laid all along the wood as we should pass, behind trees, rocks, crags, bogs, and in covert. Yet so long as we kept the bottom we lost never a man, till we were drawn up the hill by our leaders, where we could observe no order; we could have no sight of them, but were fain only to beat the places where we saw the smoke of our pieces; but the hazard of myself and the loss of my company was the safeguard of many others... were a man never so slightly hurt, he was lost, because no man was able to help him up the hill. Some died, being so out of breath that they were able to go no further, being not hurt at all.’[53]

Defeat of the English.

Carew and Audley had a dispute at the outset, and the loud talk of two usually quiet and modest officers had a very bad effect on their men. The renegade captain, Gerald Fitzmaurice, had full information from Kildare’s people, if not from the Earl himself, and he knew the companies had never been together before. They contained many raw recruits, and he rightly calculated that they would be thrown into confusion by an unseen enemy. The soldiers fresh from England wore red or blue coats, and Maltby, who was with Grey in the open, saw how easily they were picked off. ‘The strangeness of the fight,’ he adds, ‘is such to the new-come ignorant men that at the first brunt they stand all amazed, or rather give back to the enemy.... Their coats stand them in no stead, neither in fashion nor in giving them any succour to their bodies. Let the coat-money be given to some person of credit, with which, and with that which is also bestowed on their hose, they may clothe themselves here with jerkins and hose of frieze, and with the same money bring them every man a mantle which shall serve him for his bedding and thereby shall not be otherwise known to the rebels than the[Pg 63] old soldiers be.’ The recruits wavered, the kerne ran away to the enemy, and so ‘the gentlemen were lost.’

Stanley says not above thirty Englishmen were killed, but Moore, Cosby, Audley, and other officers were among them. Grey thought the rebels were fewer than the soldiers, who were stricken by panic. Sir Peter Carew was clad in complete armour, which proved more fatal than even a red coat. Suffocated from running up hill he was forced to lie down and was easily taken. It was proposed to hold him to ransom, ‘but one villain,’ says Hooker, ‘most butcherly, as soon as he was disarmed, with his sword slaughtered and killed him, who in time after was also killed.’

Three months afterwards George Carew rejoiced that he had the good fortune to slay him who slew his brother, and announced that he meant to lay his bones by his or to be ‘thoroughly satisfied with revenge.’ No doubt the survivor under such circumstances would be filled with remorseful bitterness; but his thirst for revenge, fully slaked by a murder three years later, can be scarcely justified even according to that ancient code which prescribes an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.[54]

Consequences of the affair.

When a civilised government receives a check from its revolted subjects, the moral effect is generally out of all proportion to the actual loss. But Pelham had effectually bridled Munster, and Maltby had for the moment nearly neutralised Connaught and Ulster also. O’Rourke and O’Donnell now both took arms in the Catholic cause, and there was every prospect of a general conflagration. Maltby rode post from Dublin northwards, and such was the dread which he had inspired, that O’Donnell at once disbanded his men, and wrote to say that nothing should make him swerve from his allegiance. The President hastened to Leitrim, where he found that O’Rourke had dismantled the castle. He immediately began[Pg 64] to repair it, though he had to draw lime eight miles. The tanist Brian O’Rourke, who regarded the chief as his greatest enemy, helped the work, and gladly acted as sheriff under the President.

O’Rourke appeared at the edge of a wood with 1,200 men, of whom 500 were Scots; but Ulick Burke, who begged for the place of honour, charged at the head of 200 soldiers and 500 kerne. Some Scots were killed, and the building was not further interrupted. Leaving a strong garrison in the castle, Maltby then hurried back to Dublin, and arrived there in time to be a witness and a critic of the Glenmalure affair. He warned the English Government that Ulster was in a dangerous state, and that Tirlogh Luineach’s wife was determined to make a new Scotland of that province. ‘She has already planted a good foundation, for she in Tyrone, her daughter in Tyrconnell (being O’Donnell’s wife), and Sorleyboy in Clandeboy, do carry all the sway in the North, and do seek to creep into Connaught, but I will stay them from that.’[55]

Results of the defeat—in Ulster,

The news of Grey’s defeat did not reach the officials at Cork for eleven days, and then only in a fragmentary way, but its effect upon the natives was instantaneous. Tirlogh Luineach, whom Captain Piers had just brought to terms, suddenly swept round the lower end of Lough Neagh, drove off the cattle of the loyalist Sir Hugh Magennis, and killed many of his men, demanded the title of O’Neill, and the old hegemony claimed by Shane, declared that he would stand in defence of religion while life lasted, and proposed to invade the Pale with 5,000 men. The Scots’ galleys lay in Lough Foyle, and effectual resistance seemed impossible. The Baron of Dungannon sent his cattle to the mountains, and hid himself in the woods, protesting his loyalty even ‘if all the Irishry in Ireland should rebel,’ and if he had nothing left but his bare body. But Magennis, after crouching for a while at Narrow Water, was forced to go as a suppliant to Tirlogh’s camp.

In the Pale,
and in Connaught.

The southern side of the Pale was in no better case. A[Pg 65] strong force under John of Desmond besieged Maryborough, and the constable was so closely watched that he dared not write. A private settler living in the unfinished castle of Disert, and expecting to be attacked every moment, sent the news to Dublin, but was forced to entrust his letter to a poor beggar-man. Ladders were ready in the woods to attack all posts. Some of Ormonde’s villages were burned, and his brother Piers, though he maintained his own ground, could not save Abbeyleix from the flames. The remnant of the O’Connors rose once more, and Ross MacGeohegan, the most loyal and useful subject in the midlands, was murdered by his half-brother Brian, whose mother was an O’Connor. ‘All is naught here,’ wrote Maltby from Dublin, ‘and like to be worse.’ He had to reach Athlone by a circuitous route, and found his province already in an uproar.[56]

The Spaniards appear at last.

It was in foreign aid that all Irish rebels mainly trusted; and it was supposed that the fleet would prevent any descent upon Munster, the only district where strangers from the South would have much chance of maintaining themselves. Winter had been directed to cruise about the mouth of the Shannon, having first sent some light craft to the Biscay coast for news. He was not to land himself, but if necessary to employ a naval brigade under Captain Richard Bingham. The admiral was not in good health; he hated the service, he hated Captain Bingham, and he was ready to run home as soon as there seemed the least chance of victuals running short. The fleet reached Ireland about the beginning of April, and early in July Winter threatened to sail away. But the Queen’s positive orders restrained him for a time, and Pelham was at hand to inculcate obedience, reminding him that there was generally a Michaelmas summer in Ireland. Pelham left Munster on the last day of August, on December 5th Winter sailed for England, and on the 12th the long-expected Spaniards arrived at Smerwick. The admiral was[Pg 66] required to explain his very unseasonable departure, and it must be admitted that he had reasons, though a Drake or a Nelson might not have allowed them much weight. The ships were foul, and sailed too badly either for flight or chase, the sails and ropes were rotten from the unceasing wet of a Kerry summer, victuals were running short, there was a most plentiful lack of news, and the Shannon was a bad anchorage at the best. Whatever the Queen may have thought of the admiral’s conduct, it did not prevent her from sending him to Ireland again.[57]

An English sea-dog in Spain.

An attack on England could not be secretly prepared in Spain, for the carrying trade was in England’s hands. Armed rovers like Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher, half merchants and half buccaneers, came and went as they pleased upon the peninsular coast, in the confident hope that no Spaniard could catch them. Such a one was Captain James Sidee, an excellent seaman but not altogether free from suspicion of piracy, whom it had been necessary to pardon some years before. He sailed boldly into the splendid harbour of Ferroll, and wrote to the governor demanding the surrender of certain English subjects whom he supposed to be living there. He had perceived, he said grimly, that the country folk were in terror at his approach, but he was no pirate and would take no one by force, for Ferroll was the ‘king’s chamber which he was commanded not to break.’ But he wanted his own fellow-subjects, who had plundered a Plymouth ship at sea, and hinted plainly that he could take them if he liked. He said they were only cowkeepers who had left their cows, and John Fleming, James Fitzmaurice’s admiral, had run away from his creditors. The Irish bishop who was with them might find some better employment than keeping kine in Ireland. The Spanish governor’s answer does not appear; but one Barnaby O’Neill wrote to say that the bishop was noble, chaste, virtuous, and[Pg 67] learned, while the heretic bishops of England were shoe-makers, scavengers, and pudding-makers, that Fleming was Lord Slane’s cousin, and that Sidee had served under that rebel, traitor, and coward, the Prince of Orange. Sidee retorted that the Silent Prince was far above his praise, and that he did not believe his correspondent was an O’Neill at all, for he had never heard his name. He might of course be some bastard, but he rather inclined to think that he was really one William Hall, a murderous thief well known in Ireland and Spain. Sir William Winter was of opinion that Sidee’s proceedings would not facilitate English diplomacy in Spain, and indeed it was an uncomfortable time for Englishmen there. But Philip was most anxious to avoid war—much too anxious indeed for the taste of his ambassadors in England—and Elizabeth’s subjects suffered more petty annoyance than actual hardship.[58]

Irish refugees in Spain.

William Carusse of Drogheda sailed from Tenby to Spain, with a cargo, in the ‘Gift of God,’ a vessel of only nineteen tons. Being chased by a man-of-war, he put into Santander, where he found an English ship and an English bark, and where he was boarded by the corregidor, and by two or three ecclesiastics who vainly searched for books, and seem to have helped themselves to six shillings. The national proverb that in Spain a little oil sticks to every hand was exemplified by Carusse’s treatment. He made friends with Mr. Browne, natural brother of Lady Kildare, and afterwards with Oliver Plunkett, a Drogheda gentleman who had served Spain in Flanders. Both befriended him with the Spanish authorities; and as they meditated an invasion of Ireland, it was not their cue to make enemies there. Browne had a map of Ireland drawn by himself, and showed by his conversation that he knew the coast. Plunkett declared that the conquest of the island would be child’s play, but that Dublin and Drogheda might give trouble. Lord Gormanston had just married a relative or friend of Plunkett’s, who was most anxious to send her a letter of congratulation, but Carusse refused to carry[Pg 68] letters. His sails were then taken away, and by Browne’s advice he gave six ducats to the corregidor, four to a scrivener, and two each to two other officers. Then the sails were restored. Five hundred ducats belonging to him were impounded, but afterwards restored, with a deduction of four as a fee for counting them. A further fee of three ducats and expenses was exacted by Browne, and then Carusse was allowed to go free. He noted that Plunkett had three large ships under his orders, and he conversed with several Irishmen, including a priest and a friar. All talked long and loud of the coming conquest, and the ecclesiastics dwelt with unction on the bishoprics and other preferments which would be vacant. Meanwhile the very Lord Gormanston about whom Plunkett spoke was giving information to the Government. It was, he said, a religious war, and religion would draw men far; nevertheless, he could do a great deal if he had only money. Ireland was as corrupt as Spain.[59]

Devastation of Kerry.
The Spaniards land.

The fleet were lying at Ventry when the news came that Pelham had gone to Dublin, and left the troops under Sir George Bourchier’s command. Bourchier immediately entered Kerry with 600 or 700 men, and with the help of Lord Fitzmaurice began to devastate the country still further. From Castle Island to Dingle, on both sides of Slieve Mish, the powers of fire were tried to the utmost. An Englishman who had been with Sanders was taken and executed, and Lady Desmond was closely chased for two miles. The Earl fled into Limerick, and the wretched people crowded down to the sea, and submitted to the admiral, as the lesser of two evils. Winter persuaded Bourchier to spare them, on condition of their maintaining a garrison of 200 foot and 30 horse at Tralee, and of giving hostages for good behaviour, otherwise they were told that Sir George would execute his commission strictly; and his commission was ‘to burn their corn, spoil their harvest, kill and drive their cattle.’ The 4,000 cows which had been driven in were then spared, and so were many prisoners poor and rich. Winter sailed away[Pg 69] just as the hostile expedition was leaving Corunna, and one week later four Spanish vessels came into Smerwick, where they landed men and tents, and began to fortify on the old ground. Two other ships were taken at sea by the Huguenots, who carried them into Rochelle. The more successful part of the squadron took a homeward-bound Frenchman with 56,000 codfish from Newfoundland, killed the captain and three men, and brought the remaining twenty-eight to Ireland, where they used them as labourers. One of the Spanish ships was a galley with thirty-two oars, and they gave out that she was powerful enough to batter castles. But Captain Thomas Clinton, who was cruising about the mouth of the Shannon, said he would fight her had he but ten musketeers on board his small vessel. The strangers were nearly all Italians, and only about 600 men seem to have landed, though there were rumours of more coming. Friar Matthew Oviedo was apostolic commissary, and with him were Dr. Ryan, papal Bishop of Killaloe, two Jesuit preachers, and three or four friars. Desmond came down the coast to meet them, and attacked Ardfert and Fenit castles with their aid. But they had brought up only small cannon, and the Irish garrisons easily beat them off. Captain Bingham contemptuously designates the rank and file as ‘poor simple bisognos, very ragged, and a great part of them boys’; but they had 5,000 stand of arms, and four kegs of Spanish reals were given to Desmond. Ormonde immediately prepared to take the field, and Grey, who at first scarcely believed that the strangers had landed, thought it better to temporise with Tirlogh Luineach, to whom Sanders had offered the sovereignty of Ulster. If the Queen would give him a butt or two of sack, it might, for the moment, make him forget to urge inadmissible claims. ‘As toys please children, so to Bacchus knights the lick of grapes is liking, of which crew this is a royal fellow.’[60]

[Pg 70]

Ormonde’s march to Smerwick.

Just three weeks after the landing of the Spaniards, Ormonde set out from Cork with 1,600 men. He was completely ignorant of the enemy’s force, but was anxious to have the first brush with them; and he passed the mountains into Kerry without his full armour and without camp furniture. He learned at once that Desmond and his brother John, Baltinglas, Piers Grace, and Sanders, with most of the foreigners, were strongly posted at Bungunder near Tralee. They gave out that they would fight, but fell back at Ormonde’s approach, and left his way open to Smerwick. The enemy in the field broke up into small bodies, but the fort was too strong to attempt without artillery. After conferring with the invaders, Baltinglas returned to his district, thus passing, as John of Desmond and Sanders did, twice unmolested right across Ireland. Hearing that Desmond had got into his rear, Ormonde turned to pursue, when the garrison of Smerwick made a sally and tried to provoke a fight. But Ormonde was too cautious thus to be drawn under their guns, and went on to surprise Desmond’s bivouac near Castlemaine. He took a few Spanish prisoners as well as some ‘painted tables, altar-cloths, chalices, books, and other such furniture said to be the nuncio’s.’ The Earl left his troops in the county of Limerick, and went home to help his wife to make great cheer, for the Lord Deputy Grey had written to him for 1,000 beeves, and he remarked that he might as well ask him to kill all the enemy with a breath. 500, by great exertion, might perhaps be collected. He found time to write a letter to a Spanish nobleman and to send him a hawk taken, as he was careful to mention, out of one of the many castles from which Desmond had been driven to woods and mountains. He told his correspondent that he was busy hunting the wild Biskyes and Italians, and that the rebel Earl would soon be hanged and quartered, like his brother James. ‘As for the foreigners,’ he added, ‘this much I will assure you, that they curse the Pope and as many as sent them, which they shall shortly have better cause to do.’[61]

[Pg 71]

Rapid voyage of Bingham.

Having had time to put his squadron into something like trim, Winter was ordered back to Ireland, Bingham accompanying him as vice-admiral. Sailing from Harwich with a fine breeze from the N.E., they ran through the Straits and down Channel as far as Ryde, where some days were lost waiting for orders. When the word was at last given, the wind held in the same point, but the sea rose and the ships parted company in Portland Race. Captain Bingham, in the ‘Swiftsure,’ looked into Falmouth, but did not see the admiral, and chose to think that he was gone ahead, whereas he was really far astern. Bingham ran past the Land’s End, where the wind changed to W.N.W., made Cape Clear in the morning, and anchored at the mouth of Valentia harbour. Winter strongly objected to his second-in-command’s excessive zeal, and it is plain that they hated each other cordially. In great glee probably at having outstripped his chief, the strenuous Bingham went into Valentia with the boats, but found only Captain Clinton, who directed him to Smerwick. There he anchored near the fort, after a run of sixty hours from Portland, of which ten had been passed in Valentia harbour; yet he tells us that the ‘Swiftsure’ was the slowest ship in the fleet. Ormonde was gone already; and the garrison, with the help of the peasantry, were busy strengthening their works. Bingham prepared to cut out their ships; but they towed them in almost aground, and, after exchanging shots with them, he made up his mind that the works could not be taken without heavy ordnance. Fourteen pieces were mounted on the rampart, the largest being of the kind called sakers. John of Desmond and all the foreigners were at the fort, and Bingham understood that many of the latter would leave Ireland if they could. The chill October weather did not suit the Italians, and many of them died. Brave Romans the Irish called them, but the Englishman said they were as poor rascals as he had ever met with.[62]

Grey goes to Kerry.

Towards the end of October, the Lord Deputy, much[Pg 72] hindered by flooded rivers and a bad commissariat, slowly made his way by Kilkenny into the county of Limerick. At Rathkeale he was joined by the English companies whom Ormonde had with him, and led the united force to Dingle. The Earl seems to have returned himself. Among the newly arrived captains was Walter Raleigh, burning with anxiety to distinguish himself, and ready to tempt fortune to almost any extent. When the camp at Rathkeale broke up, he held his own company in ambush until the main column had gone to some distance. Then came some wretched kernes to pick up what they could, as the lepers came to the Syrian camp before Samaria. Raleigh took them all prisoners, including one who carried a bundle of osiers, used by the Irish as halters, and who imprudently said that they were to hang up English churls. ‘They shall now serve an Irish kerne,’ said Raleigh, and this jester out of season was hanged forthwith. The other prisoners, says Hooker, were treated according to their deserts, but we are not told what those deserts were. The whole army then marched as far as Dingle, where they encamped to wait for the admiral, who lingered at Kinsale after his rough voyage. After conferring with Bingham and viewing the fort, Grey agreed that regular approaches were necessary, and until the fleet came nothing could be done, for the army was not provided either with trenching tools or heavy guns.[63]

The fleet at Smerwick.

More than a week later an express came from Winter to say that he had been delayed by weather, but was now in Smerwick harbour, and that three provision ships had come from Cork and Limerick. Grey at once rode to Smerwick from his camp near Dingle, and Winter agreed to land eight pieces of cannon. Next day was Sunday, part of which Grey spent with Bingham studying the ground, and on Monday he moved his camp to near the doomed fort. At his approach the garrison hung out the Pope’s banner and saluted the Lord Deputy with a round shot, which very nearly killed Jacques Wingfield. A small party sallied forth and skirmished with[Pg 73] the advanced guard of the English under cover of a heavy fire from musketeers lying in the ditch. The practice was remarkably bad, for the only damage done to the English by more than 600 rounds was to graze Captain Zouch’s leg without breaking the skin. Grey pitched his tent near the fort, and that night a trench was made. The sailors went to work with a will, and two pieces were mounted, which began to play next morning at a distance of about 240 yards from the work. The enemy had mounted their guns so badly that only two seriously annoyed the besiegers. These were disabled by two o’clock; and the garrison were reduced to musketry and to harquebusses which they fired from rests. Every little skirmish went against the Italians, and in spite of four sallies the sappers worked up that night to within 120 yards of the ditch.

The foreigners cannot maintain themselves.

The only serious casualty happened next morning. Good John Cheke, as Grey calls him, was a son of the great scholar, and inherited most scholarlike poverty, although he was Burghley’s nephew. Tired of living as a dependant on his uncle’s favour, and much more in awe of him than of Spanish bullets, he begged a horse from the great Lord Treasurer and resolved to seek his fortune in Ireland. Incautiously raising his head above the trench, he received a fatal wound, and Grey descants at great length upon his edifying end. ‘He made,’ wrote the Puritan warrior to the Queen, ‘so divine a confession of his faith, as all divines in either of your Majesty’s realms could not have passed, if matched, it; so wrought in him God’s spirit, plainly declaring him a child of His elected.’ Grey observed that the fatal volley came from under a wooden penthouse, and pointed out the spot to Winter, who himself laid the guns. The second shot dislodged the musketeers, and at the fourth a flag of truce was shown on the ramparts. The Pope’s banner had first been struck and replaced by a black and a white banner. This was to warn Desmond, who had promised to be on the neighbouring hills with 4,000 men. The furling of the black flag was a first signal of distress; but no help came,[Pg 74] and a parley was asked for. Sir James Fitzgerald of Decies had been given by Desmond to the Italians with instructions to exact 1,000l. ransom; he was now brought out and liberated. The camp-master, Alexander Bartoni, a Florentine, then came into the trenches, and said that certain Spaniards and Italians had been lured to Ireland by false representations, that they had no quarrel with Queen Elizabeth, and that they were quite ready to depart as they had come. A Spanish captain followed, but he made no pretence of being sent by his king, or of having communicated with any higher authority than Recalde, the governor of Bilboa. The Florentine said they were all sent by the Pope for the defence of the Catholica fede, and Grey, in true Puritan style, replied that his Holiness was ‘a detestable shaveling, the right Antichrist and general ambitious tyrant over all right principalities, and patron of the diabolica fede.’ All conditions were refused, and in the evening the commandant, Sebastian de San Josefo, a Bolognese, came himself into the trenches and begged for a truce till morning.

The surrender.
The massacre.

The interpreter was Oliver Plunkett, who expected no mercy and therefore opposed all negotiations, and his double-dealing may have caused such confusion as to make it possible to say that the garrison had surrendered on promise of their lives. The strangers may even have thought they had such a promise, but it is clear that Grey’s terms were unconditional surrender or storm as soon as practicable. The unfortunate Sebastian embraced his knees, and promised to evacuate the place unconditionally next morning. Catholic writers accuse San Josefo of cowardice, but he could not help surrendering, for the fort had been heavily battered, and there was no chance of relief. To make assurance doubly sure the English worked all night and mounted two fresh guns before sunrise. On the morrow about a dozen officers came out with their ensigns trailed and surrendered the fort at discretion. Grey distributed them among his officers to be held to ransom for their profit. The arms and stores were secured, ‘and then,’ says Arthegal himself, ‘put I in certain bands, who straight fell to execution. There were 600 slain.’ Hooker adds that[Pg 75] Mackworth and Walter Raleigh were the captains on duty, and that they superintended the butchery.[64]

The massacre approved by the Queen.

The poor Italians had no commissions and were treated as filibusters, just as the Spaniards would have treated Drake had they been able to catch him; but many blamed Grey, though he does not himself seem to have been conscious that he had done anything extraordinary. Sussex was among the critics, though he had plenty to answer for himself, but the Queen approved of what had been done. At the top of the despatch sent in answer to the Lord Deputy’s, she wrote as follows, in the fine Roman hand which sometimes contrasts so strangely with her studiously involved and obscure phraseology:—“The mighty hand of the Almighty’s power hath shewed manifest the force of his strength in the weakness of feeblest sex and minds this year to make men ashamed ever after to disdain us, in which action I joy that you have been chose the instrument of his glory which I mean to give you no cause to forethink.” She censured Grey rather for sparing some of the principals than for slaying the accessories; not for what he had done, but for what he had left undone; for the object was to prevent such expeditions in future. Elizabeth, who belonged to her age, probably wondered that anybody should object. Nor does it appear that the Catholic[Pg 76] powers made any official complaint; it was their habit to do likewise.

Reflections on the event.

Those who condescended to excuse Grey urged that 600 prisoners would be very inconvenient to an army of 800, and that lack of provisions made delay dangerous. But there were eight ships of war and four provision-vessels in the bay, which might have carried most of the prisoners, and enough biscuit, bacon, oil, fish, rice, beans, peas, and barley were found in the fort to support 600 men for six months. The 4,000 stand of arms taken might easily have been conveyed on shipboard. Between 300l. and 400l. was found in Spanish reals, and this money was divided among the soldiers, who were in their habitual half-paid state. If the Pope recruited for this enterprise, as he did for the former one, among the brigands of Umbria and Samnium, there would be a reason for treating the rank and file rigorously while sparing the officers, but this point is not raised in the official correspondence.

The best defence of Grey, and yet not a very good one, is to be found in the cruelty of the age. After the fall of Haarlem Alva butchered three or four times as many as perished at Smerwick. Santa Cruz put to death the crews of several French ships after the fight at Terceira in the Azores. It would be easy to multiply examples, but it may suffice to say that Captain Mackworth afterwards fell into the hands of the Offaly O’Connors, who mutilated him horribly and flayed him alive.[65]

Reasons for failure of foreign invaders.

The Four Masters say that the name of the Italians exceeded the reality, and that either Limerick, Cork, or Galway would at first have opened their gates to them. This is probable enough, and at any rate Smerwick was a bad place for their enterprise, for it was hardly to be supposed[Pg 77] that England would not have the command of the sea. The same mistake was made more than once by the French in later times, and it may be assumed that Ireland is unassailable except by an overwhelming force. The Spaniards at one period, and the French at another, might often have landed an army large enough to overtax the actual resources of the Irish Government. For a time they might have been masters of the country, and would at first have commanded the sympathies of the people. But the rule of a foreign soldiery would soon become more irksome than the old settled government, and the invading general would find as little real native help as Hannibal found in Latium, or as Charles Edward found in Lancashire. Had Limerick, Galway, or Cork admitted Sanders and his Italians the struggle might have been prolonged, but while an English fleet kept the sea, the result could hardly have been doubtful.

Composition of the Smerwick garrison.

The garrison at Smerwick consisted chiefly of Italians, with a contingent from Northern Spain, and the numbers were variously estimated at from 400 to 700. Two hundred are said to have been veteran soldiers, but opinions differed as to the general quality of the men. Grey, when he saw their corpses, mused over them as gallant and goodly personages, while Bingham said they were beggarly rascals. Among the officers were a few Spaniards, but the majority were from Italy: Rome, Florence, Milan, Bologna, Genoa, and Bolsena being all represented.


A few Irishmen who had allowed themselves to be entrapped were hanged, and some women with them. An Englishman who followed Dr. Sanders, a friar who is not named, and Oliver Plunkett, were reserved for a peculiarly hard fate. Their arms and legs were broken, and they were hanged on a gallows on the wall of the fort. Plunkett, who was examined before his death, said that twenty-four sail at Corunna and Santander were ready to sail for Ireland. Lord Westmoreland was to be sent over by the Pope, and Charles Browne, at Santander, was in correspondence with Inglefield and others.[66]

[Pg 78]

Account of Fort Del Oro.

Not only was the extreme point of Kerry a bad place to attack Queen Elizabeth, but the fort itself was ill suited for defence. The only water supply was from streams half-a-mile off on each side, and the work was too small for those whom it had to protect. Its greatest length was 350 feet, and its average breadth was about 100, and 50 square feet of ground to each person is but scanty room. ‘The thing itself,’ says Sir Nicholas White, ‘is but the end of a rock shooting out into the Bay of Smerwick, under a long cape, whereupon a merchant of the Dingle, called Piers Rice, about a year before James Fitzmaurice’s landing, built a castle, under pretence of gaining by the resort of strangers thither a-fishing, whereas in very truth it was to receive James at his landing, and because at that very instant time, a ship laden with Mr. Furbisher’s new-found riches happened to press upon the sands near to the place, whose carcase and stores I saw lie there, carrying also in his mind a golden imagination of the coming of the Spaniards called his building Down-enoyr, which is as much as to say, the “Golden Down.” The ancient name of the bay, Ardcanny... from a certain devout man named Canutius, which upon the height of the cliffs, as appears at this day, built a little hermitage to live a contemplative there.’

White’s description is very good, but it applies only to the little promontory which contains the salient seaward angle of the work, and where embrasures are still clearly traceable. The lines on the land side, which did not exist at the time of White’s visit, are visible enough, being covered with roughish pasture, but the ‘mariner’s trench’ is undecipherable owing to tillage. There was a bridge between the mainland and the outer rock, and Rice’s fortalice was no doubt confined to the ‘island.’[67]

[Pg 79]

State of Connaught.

In the meantime, O’Rourke had risen and attacked Maltby’s garrison at Leitrim. The President had but 400 English, half of whom were newcomers and ‘simple enough,’ and he had to ferry them over the flooded Shannon in cots. The gentlemen of the county advised him not to face such great odds, but 100 of their kerne behaved well, and he put a bold face on it. The O’Rourkes and their Scots allies railed exceedingly against the Queen and exalted the Pope; but they did not dare to face the dreaded President, and disappeared, leaving him to burn Brefny at his will. Ulick Burke seemed at first inclined to serve faithfully, and Maltby was disposed to trust him, but John and William were in open rebellion, and their youngest sister begged for protection. ‘I pray you,’ she wrote to the President, ‘receive me as a poor, destitute, and fatherless gentlewoman.... I found nowhere aid nor assistance, and no friends since my lord and father departed, but what I found at your worship’s hands.’ A few days later Ulick styled himself MacWilliam, and joined John, who accepted the position of Tanist, in forcibly collecting corn for the papal garrison. They announced that they would hang all priests who refused to say mass, and Maltby reported that the papal Bishop of Kilmacduagh was leading them to the devil headlong. They demolished Loughrea, and most of the castles between the Shannon and Galway Bay. Communications with Munster were interrupted, and Maltby, self-reliant as he was, began to fear for the safety of Galway, where there was no stock of provisions, and no artillery worth mentioning. Affairs were at this pass when Grey’s success at Smerwick reduced the rebellion in Connaught to insignificance.[68]

Want of money.

Grey was not long in Ireland before he encountered the great Elizabethan problem of how to make bricks without straw. Treasurer Wallop estimated the soldiers’ pay at 6,000l. worth, exclusive of extraordinaries, and the victualling difficulties were as great as ever. The English officials in Dublin seldom gave[Pg 80] Ormonde a good word, but on this head their complaints chimed in with his. The victualler at Cork warned him not to reckon on more than twelve days’ biscuit and wine, and there were no means of brewing at Cork. ‘I know,’ said the Earl, ‘it is sour speech to speak of money; I know it will be also wondered at how victuals should want.... I never had for me and my companies one hundred pounds worth of victual, and this being true, I can avow that some have told lies at Court to some of your councillors—yea, not only in this, but in many other things.’

‘The soldiers,’ said Sir William Stanley, ‘are so ill chosen in England that few are able or willing to do any service, but run away with our furniture, and when they come into England there is no punishment used to them, by means whereof we can hardly keep any.’

Meantime there were loud complaints of abuses in purveyance for the Viceregal household, and the Irish Council could think of no better plan than to swear the purveyors, and cut off their ears in case of perjury. Wallop reported that bribes were openly taken in official circles; that was the usual course, though he had never given or taken any himself.[69]

Kildare in charge of the Pale.

When Grey went to Munster he left Kildare to act as general in the Pale. With the whole force of the country, and with 1,400 men in the Queen’s pay, including garrisons, he undertook to defend Dublin to the south, and to do some service against the rebels. Six hundred men were on the Ulster frontier, and these also were to be at his disposal in case of necessity. He and his son-in-law, the Baron of Delvin, were accused of conspiring to turn the war to their own advantage, by promising everything and doing nothing. Should the Pope’s title prevail, they would be all-powerful; should the Queen be victorious they would at least make money out of the business. It was arranged that Kildare should have 600 men paid by the country in addition to the[Pg 81] Queen’s troops. He preferred to take the money, and to raise 400 kernes himself; ‘but I think,’ said Wallop, ‘he will put all that in his purse and three parts of his entertainment of his horsemen, and fifty shillings a day for his diet. In this town he lieth for the most part, and spendeth not five pounds a week, keeping his chamber with a board not anyways an ell long.’ A civilian named Eustace, ‘properly learned, but a papist in the highest degree,’ was accused of fomenting treason among the nominally loyal, and Gerard, by remaining ‘a secret ghostly father to him for a time,’ made him fear for his own neck, and induced him to give information against many persons in the Pale. Maltby took care to remind the Irish Government that both Kildare and Ormonde had given security for John and Ulick Burke, and that Kildare was the same man that he had always been and always would be. It was plain that those to whom the conduct of the war was entrusted did not care to end it, and that only English officers and soldiers could really be depended on. An occasional raid into the Wicklow mountains did not advance matters much, and Feagh MacHugh was able to burn Rathcoole, a prosperous village ten miles from Dublin, and to make the very suburbs tremble for their own safety. Kildare made light of the burning of Rathcoole, and threw the blame on inferior officers; but this was not the view taken by the Council generally.[70]

Kildare is strongly suspected.

When Grey returned to Dublin he found the whole official circle bent upon disgracing Kildare, and after some days’ consideration he summoned the general body of nobles to meet the Council, ostensibly for the discussion of military dispositions. Delvin saw that he was suspected, and vehemently demanded an enquiry, putting in a written declaration in answer to rumoured accusations. The full Council, including Kildare, found this statement inconsistent with[Pg 82] known facts, and committed him to the Castle. Then Gerard, who had conducted the private investigation, rashly disclosed his whole case, and openly accused the Earl of complicity with the treason of Baltinglas. Wallop, who believed that no good thing could come out of Galilee, observed that the Chancellor ‘would needs have the attorney and serjeant by, who are of this country birth, and so were many councillors then present, by means of which it is now in every man’s mouth what the Earl is to be charged with.’

The Vice-Treasurer adds that his lands were worth 3,000l. a year, but that he had taken good care to return them to England as worth only 1,500l., that the only road towards good government lay through severity, and that unless traitors were made to pay both in person and lands, Ireland would always be what it long had been,—‘the sink of the treasure of England.’ Waterhouse, whose office it was to look after unconsidered trifles of revenue, thought the original cause of war was Kildare’s military commission, and that treason should be made to pay its own expenses. ‘I will hear your honour’s opinion,’ he wrote to Walsingham, ‘whether her Majesty will be content to have her great charges answered out of the livings of the conspirators, and to use a sharp and a severe course without respect of any man’s greatness, wheresoever law will catch hold, or whether all faults must be lapped up in lenity with pardons, protections, and fair semblance, as in times past; if severity, then is there hope enough of good reformation; if mildness, then discharge the army and officers, and leave this nation to themselves, for sure the mean will do no good. We must embrace one of these extremities.’[71]

Kildare and Delvin prisoners in England.

Grey could not deny that appearances were strong against the Earl, and he ordered his arrest, giving full credit for their exertions to Gerard and Loftus. He believed that ‘greediness of pay and arrogant zeal to Popish government’ were the stumbling-blocks of great personages in Ireland, and that Delvin certainly was ‘a wicked creature who had cut the poor Earl’s throat.’ As if to add to the suspicion, Kildare’s son and heir ran off to the O’Connors, and they refused to let[Pg 83] him go when Grey sent for him. At last, fearing the construction that might be put upon this, they handed him over to Ormonde, and he was shut up in the Castle with his father and Lord Delvin. All three were sent over to England, Secretary Fenton carrying the despatches, and Gerard going with him to tell his own story.[72]

The Munster rebellion drags on.

The capture of Smerwick did not put down the Munster rebellion; but Ormonde, or some of those about him, contemptuously reported that Desmond, his brother, and Baltinglas had ‘but a company of rascals and four Spaniards, and a drum to make men believe that they had a great number of the strangers.’ Both Youghal and Ross thought themselves in danger, and Wallop reported that communications between the capital and Limerick were only kept up by ‘simple fellows that pass afoot in nature of beggars, in wages not accustomed.’ Grey and Ormonde having turned their backs, Desmond appeared again near Dingle, and Bingham felt that there might be an attack at any moment. Half of Captain Zouch’s men were dead and buried, the survivors being too ill to work or fight. Captain Case’s company were little better, and they would have made no resistance without Bingham and his sailors, who worked with a will and raised a breastwork tenable by 20 men against 2,000 kernes and gallowglasses. The men were put on short allowance, and having thus made the provisions last thirteen days longer than they would otherwise have done, Bingham was compelled to return to England. His crew were so reduced by spare diet that they were unable to work the ship up Channel, and had to run into Bristol. He left Ireland, to quote a correspondent of Walsingham, ‘in as great confusion as the Tower of Babylon was a building.’ There were more soldiers in Munster than had been since the first conquest, and war material was abundant. But no two officers agreed with each other personally, or were agreed upon the policy to be pursued. Ormonde was in Dublin, looking after his own interests, and leaving his[Pg 84] lieutenants to shift for themselves. Sir Warham St. Leger, Chief Commissioner at Cork, claimed superiority over Sir George Bourchier at Kilmallock, while the latter acted as a captain of free lances and granted protections to whom he pleased. Sir William Morgan at Youghal would give way to neither, and there seemed no escape from the difficulty but once more to appoint an English President, ‘upright, valiant, severe, and wise.’ In the meantime the rebellion was as strong as ever, and what the rebels spared the soldiers ravaged. In Connaught the young Burkes daily razed houses and fences, northern Leinster lay waste, in Munster nothing was left standing save towns and cities, and Ulster was ready to break out on the smallest provocation.[73]

Official attack upon Ormonde.

The English officials all maintained that Ormonde had shown himself unfit to conduct the war. One writer estimates his emoluments at 215l. a month, and another at 3,677l. a year, and the first result of a peace would be to deprive him of these comfortable subsidies. He was mixed up with Irish families and Irish lawsuits, and could not have a single eye to the public service. He owed the Queen over 3,000l. in rents, and the war was an excuse for not paying. Nor was his system of warfare calculated to finish a rebellion, for all experienced officers said that could be done only by settled garrisons. ‘He followeth,’ says his enemy St. Leger, ‘with a running host, which is to no end but only wearing out and consuming of men by travel, for I can compare the difference between our footmen and the traitors to a mastiff and wight greyhound.’ According to the same authority Ormonde was generally disliked, and those whom he was set over would ‘rather be hanged than follow him, finding their travel and great pains altogether in vain.’ He procured the imprisonment of the Baron of Upper Ossory, whom he accused of treason, of harbouring papists and consorting with rebels, and of meeting Desmond after he had been proclaimed; but Wallop[Pg 85] thought the Earl coveted his neighbour’s land, being ‘so imperious as he can abide none near him that dependeth not on him.’ Spenser’s friend Ludovic Bryskett said the Lord General did nothing of moment with his 2,000 men, and as for his toil and travel, ‘the noble gentleman was worthy of pity to take so much labour in vain.’ Wallop, Waterhouse, Fenton, and St. Leger agreed that Ireland could only be pacified by severity, and that Ormonde was not the man to do it. But perhaps the heaviest, as it is certainly the most graphic, indictment was that which Captain Raleigh forwarded to Walsingham.[74]

Adventures of Raleigh.

Lord Barrymore’s eldest son David, Lord Roche’s eldest son Maurice, Florence MacCarthy, Patrick Condon, and others, long professed loyalty because it seemed the winning side. But Barry’s country lay open to the seneschal of Imokilly, and in passing through it Raleigh had an adventure by which the world was near losing some of its brightest memories. On his return from Dublin, and having at the time only two followers with him and as many more within shot, he was attacked at a ford by the seneschal with seventy-four men. The place seems to have been Midleton or Ballinacurra, and Raleigh’s aim was to gain an old castle, which may have been Ballivodig, to which his Irish guide at once fled. In crossing the river Henry Moile was unhorsed, and begged his captain not to desert him. Raleigh rode back into the river, and recovered both man and horse; but in his hurry to remount, Moile fell into a bog on the off side, while his horse ran away to the enemy. ‘The captain nevertheless stood still, and did abide for the coming of the residue of his[Pg 86] company, of the four shot which as yet were not come forth, and for his man Jenkin, who had about 200l. in money about him; and sat upon his horse in the meanwhile, having his staff in one hand, and his pistol charged in the other.’ Like an Homeric hero he kept the seneschal’s whole party at bay, although they were twenty to one. Raleigh modestly left the details to others, and only reported that the escape was strange to all.[75]

Raleigh’s policy.

Two days later David Barry was in open rebellion, and Raleigh minded to take possession of Barry’s Court and of the adjoining island—the ‘great island’ on which Queenstown now stands. He had been granted the custody of these lands by Grey, but Ormonde interposed delays, and Raleigh, who was as fond of property as he was careless of danger, greatly resented this. ‘When,’ he said, ‘my Lord Deputy came, and Barry had burned all the rest, the Lord General, either meaning to keep it for himself—as I think all is too little for him—or else unwilling any Englishman should have anything, stayed the taking thereof so long, meaning to put a guard of his own in it, as it is, with the rest, defaced and spoiled. I pray God her Majesty do not find, that—with the defence of his own country assaulted on all sides, what with the bearing and forbearing of his kindred, as all these traitors of this new rebellion are his own cousins-german, what by reason of the incomparable hatred between him and the Geraldines, who will die a thousand deaths, enter into a million of mischiefs, and seek succour of all nations, rather than they will ever be subdued by a Butler—that after her Majesty hath spent a hundred thousand pounds more she shall at last be driven by too dear experience to send an English President to follow these malicious traitors with fire and sword, neither respecting the alliance nor the nation.... This man having been Lord General of Munster now about two years, there are at this instant a thousand traitors more than there were the first day. Would God the service of Sir Humfry Gilbert might be rightly looked into; who, with the third part of the garrison now in Ireland, ended a rebellion not[Pg 87] much inferior to this in two months.’ A little later, Raleigh reported that he had repaired Belvelly Castle, which commands the strait between the island and the mainland, but that Ormonde meant to rob him of the fruits of his trouble and expense, and to undo what he had done. The soldiers, he declared, cursed the change which made them followers of the Earl rather than of the Lord Deputy, and spent their strength in ‘posting journeys’ with convoys to Kilkenny instead of in service against the rebels.[76]

Ormonde loses his command.

Grey yielded to the arguments of those about him, and announced that there was no help while Irish government and Ormonde were continued, adding that neither Walsingham nor Leicester would believe it. Leicester at least, who corresponded frequently with Maltby, was quite willing to believe anything against their common enemy, and it may be that the present favourite prevailed over the absent friend. At all events the Queen yielded, and Grey was allowed to tell Ormonde that his authority as Lord Lieutenant of Munster was at an end. The Earl submitted cheerfully and with many loyal expressions, saying that he would do such service without pay as would prove him no hireling. His property, he declared, was wasted in her Majesty’s service and the loss of salary would be therefore great, but to lose his sovereign’s favour and to be traduced in England was far worse. There was now a disposition in high quarters to grant pardons freely; had he known it he could have brought in every man in Munster.

He had thought nothing worth notifying while Desmond was still at large, but he would now make a collection of his services, and the Queen should see that he had not been inactive, and that his activity had not been fruitless. In private he had confessed to having borne too long with some for old acquaintance’ sake; but blamed Sussex for forgetting his friends, and could not excuse Captain Zouch, who by sickness had lost 300 men out of 450. Walsingham, in a moment of irritation, had said that his appointment had[Pg 88] resulted in the death of only three rebels. Three thousand would be nearer the mark, and that he was ready to prove.[77]

An amnesty.

The dismissal of Ormonde was intended by Grey and those about him to form part of a policy of the severest and most unsparing repression, and it was assumed that Gilbert, or some equally uncompromising person, would be appointed President. The Queen, on the other hand, considered it merely as a piece of economy, for she determined at the same time to grant a general pardon, or as the Lord Deputy despairingly put it, to ‘leave the Irish to tumble to their own sensual government.’ It was the easiest way perhaps for a Lord Deputy; but he had a conscience, and could not see it with equanimity. A considerable number were excepted by name, but even on these terms a proclamation of amnesty was a confession of failure. The news leaked out prematurely through the treachery of a servant, and the rebels bragged loudly of the revenge they would have when their past offences had been condoned.

Grey’s despair.

The change of policy did not prevent Maltby from executing Clanricarde’s son William, and he reported to Walsingham the opinion of an ancient Irish counsellor that her Majesty was only casting pearls before swine. Desmond still had 1,600 able men with him, and a brilliant night attack by Zouch on his camp, though it was made much of, had no particular result. As to Leinster, Grey reported it generally rebellious; but the bogs and woods were far smaller than in Munster, and the remains of castles showed that Wexford and Carlow at least, with the flatter portions of Wicklow, had formerly been well bridled. The object of the rebels was to have no stronghold, for the open country would be always at their mercy. As the Lord Deputy’s train passed through Wicklow the O’Byrnes showed themselves on the hills and even cut off some plate-waggons; but he made his way to Wexford, where he hanged some malefactors, and garrisoned Arklow,[Pg 89] Castle Kevin, and other places. Grey felt he had done nothing worth speaking of, and begged earnestly for a recall, since he had been overruled in opposing the amnesty as ‘not standing with the reason which he had conceived for her Majesty’s service.’ Sheer severity, was in fact, all he had to recommend, for ‘fear, and not dandling, must bring them to the bias of obedience... it is a pity that the resolutions in England should be so uncertain.... If taking of cows, killing of their kerne and churls, had been thought worth the advertising, I could have had every day to trouble your Highness.... He that to-day seems a dutiful subject, let him for any of those, or for other less crimes be to-morrow called upon to come and answer, straightway a protection is demanded and in the mean he will be upon his keeping, which in plain English is none other than a traitor that will forcibly defend his cause and not answer to justice.... Beggars fall to pride, rail at your Majesty, and rely only upon the Pope, and that changes shall in the end free them.[78]

Death of Sanders.

Just before Ormonde’s dismissal became known, his enemy, Sir Warham St. Leger, told Burghley that he lost twenty Englishmen killed for every one of the rebels. But famine and disease succeeded where the sword failed, and in the same letter St. Leger was able to announce that Dr. Sanders had died of dysentery. For two months the secret had been kept, his partisans giving out that he had gone to Spain for help; but at last one of the women who had clothed him in his winding-sheet brought the news to Sir Thomas of Desmond. Since the fall of Fort Del Oro, he had scarcely been heard of, and had spent his time miserably in the woods on the border of Cork and Limerick. Some English accounts say that he was out of his mind, but of this there does not seem to be any proof. All agree that he died in the wood of Clonlish, and it seems that he was buried in a neighbouring church. His companion at the last was Cornelius Ryan, the[Pg 90] papal bishop of Killaloe, and according to O’Sullivan—who had evidently himself good means of knowing the truth—the following scene took place:—

‘In the beginning of the night, Dr. Sanders, whose naturally strong frame was worn out by dysentery, thus addressed the Bishop of Killaloe,—“Anoint me, illustrious lord, with extreme unction, for my Creator calls me, and I shall die to-night.” “You are strong,” answered the bishop, “and your case is not bad, and I think there will be no dying or anointing just now.” Nevertheless, he grew worse, and was anointed at midnight, and at cockcrow resigned his spirit to the Lord, and the following night he was secretly buried by priests, and borne to the grave by four Irish knights, of which my father, Dermot, was one. Others were forbidden to attend, lest the English should find the body, and make their usual cruel spectacle of the dead.’

What he did for Ireland.

Sanders had been three years in Ireland. He had brought upon the country only bloodshed, famine, and confiscation, and yet among the starving people, none could be found to earn a reward by betraying him.[79]


[51] Lord Grey’s instructions, July 15, 1580, are printed in Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica.

[52] Gerard, C., to Burghley, July 29 and August 3, 1580, to Walsingham, August 3 (with enclosures); to Wallop, August 7; Lord Deputy Grey and Council to the Privy Council, August 14; Zouch and Stanley to Walsingham, July 29; Pelham to Gerard, July 30, in Carew.

[53] Four Masters: Stanley to Walsingham, August 31, 1580.

[54] George Carew to Walsingham, November 20, 1580. For the defeat in Glenmalure, see Stanley, Maltby, and Gerard to Walsingham, August 31 Grey to Walsingham, August 31; to Burghley, September 12; Wallop to Walsingham, September 9; Hooker; Four Masters, 1580; Camden, who exaggerates the loss; O’Sullivan, ii. iv. 14, who ridiculously estimates the slain at 800.

[55] Maltby to Leicester and Walsingham, August 17; the former in Carew; Gerard to Walsingham, August 14.

[56] Hugh Magennis to Grey, August 29, 1580; Dungannon and Sir Hugh O’Reilly to Grey, September 3; Gormanston to Grey, September 4; Sir N. Bagenal to Grey, September 2; Mr. John Barnes to Grey (from Disert), September 4; Nathaniel Smith to Maltby, September 3; Maltby to Walsingham, September 7 and 8.

[57] Pelham to the Privy Council, July 14, 1580; to the Irish Council, July 22; to Winter, August 16, all in Carew. Instructions to Sir William Winter, March 17; and considerations which moved him, September 23; Sir R. Bingham to Walsingham, September 20; Baron of Lixnaw to the Munster Commissioners, September 15.

[58] The correspondence about Sidee is between March 19 and 21, 1580; Winter to the Privy Council, April 27; Notes for the Privy Council, May 14.

[59] Examination of William Carusse, August 12, 1580; Viscount Gormanston to Gerard, July 28.

[60] Grey to the Queen, October 5, 1580; Bingham to Walsingham, September 20 and October 18; and to Leicester same date in Carew; James Golde and Thomas Arthur to Wallop and Waterhouse, September 30; Commons of Lixnaw to same, September 27; Thomas Clinton to the Attorney of Munster, September 26.

[61] Ormonde to R. Shee, October 8, 1580, to an unnamed correspondent, Nov. (No. 71), to the Conde ‘the Lemes’ (? De Lerma) October 31.

[62] Captain R. Bingham to Walsingham, October 13, 18, and 23, 1580; to Leicester, October 18, in Carew.

[63] Hooker; Grey to the Queen, November 12, 1580; Bingham to Walsingham, November 3.

[64] Strype’s Life of Cheke, ch. vi. Bingham to Leicester, November 11, 1580, in Wright’s Elizabeth; to Walsingham, November 12; Grey to the Queen and to Walsingham, November 12; Anonymous to Walsingham, November (No. 27). Bingham says the confusion and slaughter were increased by the sailors who swarmed in over the sea-face of the fort, but Grey makes no excuse. See also G. Fenton to Walsingham, November 14, Hooker, Camden, and Spenser’s State of Ireland. The poet expressly says that he was present. All the above agree that Grey made no promise, and the Four Masters do not materially contradict the English writers, for their ‘promise of protection’ may only refer to the negotiations. O’Daly and O’Sullivan, whose accounts seem to have been drawn from the same source, and very probably from Sanders, accuse Grey of bad faith; but they also say the siege lasted forty days, and that the English had recourse to fraud because force had failed. Now it is certain that only one clear day elapsed between the turning of the first sod and the surrender of the fort. Graia fides became a by-word in Catholic Europe, but that would be a matter of course, and it is a pity that so great a scholar as O’Donovan should give implicit faith to rumour, while scouting as ‘mere fiction’ the solemn statement of such an eye witness as Edmund Spenser.

[65] The Queen to Grey, December 12, 1580; Anonymous to Walsingham, November (No. 27); Dowling ad ann. 1583; Maltby to Leicester, May 28, 1582. The chronology of the Smerwick affair is as follows: Friday, November 4, fleet enters Ventry harbour; 5th, moves to Smerwick; 6th, reconnoitring; 7th, Grey shifts camp from Dingle and opens trenches; 8th, battery opens; 9th, battery continued and surrender agreed upon at night; 10th, the foreign officers come out, and their men are massacred.

[66] The above details are in the letter of November 11 and 12, already cited; the examination of Plunkett in a letter of the latter date from Grey to Walsingham.

[67] Sir N. White to Burghley, July 22, 1580. I have heard that Mr. Hennessy interprets ‘Ard canny’ as ‘hill of Arbutus,’ and without reference to any saint. There is a contemporary map of Fort del oro in the Record Office, which seems correct, and it is printed on a reduced scale in the Kerry Magazine. I inspected the place and took measurements in June 1883. Dun-an oir is the ‘earthwork of gold.’ Poor Frobisher’s gold was pyrites, as the London goldsmiths knew, but an Italian alchemist was believed. The ‘carcase’ mentioned by White was that of the ship, not of the owner.

[68] Lady Honora Burke to Maltby, October 29, 1580; Maltby to Walsingham, October 25, October 27, and November 17; Gerard to Burghley, November 27; Four Masters.

[69] Ormonde to Walsingham and to Burghley, September 28, 1580; J. Thickpenny to Ormonde, September 27; Stanley to Walsingham, October 2; order by the Lord Deputy and Council, October 3; Wallop to Walsingham, November 12.

[70] Wallop to Walsingham, October 9 and 25, and November 27; to Burghley, November 11, 1580; Waterhouse to Walsingham, October 13; Lord Chancellor and Council to the Privy Council, November 3; Gerard to Burghley, October 18; Captain R. Pypho to Walsingham, November 9; Kildare to Walsingham, December 10. Writing to Wallop, on November 17, Maltby says of Kildare, ‘sicut erat in principio et tel il sera toute sa vie.’ The letter is a queer mixture of Latin, French, and cypher.

[71] Wallop and Waterhouse to Walsingham, December 23, 1580.

[72] Grey to the Queen, December 22, 1580; Lord Deputy and Council to the Queen, December 23; Wallop to Walsingham, December 30; White, M.R., to Burghley, February 2, 1581.

[73] James Sherlock, Mayor of Waterford to Walsingham, November 18, 1580, with the enclosures; Wallop to Walsingham, November 30; Bingham to Walsingham, December 12 and January 9; John Myagh to Walsingham, January 26, 1581; White, M.R., to Burghley, February 2.

[74] Notes of Ormonde’s entertainments December, 1580 (No. 45); Wallop to Walsingham, January 14, 1581; to Burghley, May 13; L. Bryskett to Walsingham, April 21; St. Leger to Burghley, June 3. See also ‘Observations on the Earl of Ormonde’s government,’ drawn up probably by Maltby and St. Leger, and calendared in Carew at March 1582. For Ormonde’s quarrel with Upper Ossory see his letter to Walsingham, July 21, 1580; and to Grey, August 28; and Waterhouse to Walsingham, August 13. King Edward’s old playfellow was six months in prison, and his lands at the mercy of the Butlers. He earnestly desired a trial, adding that his enemy’s hands were perhaps less clean than his; see his letter to Leicester of June 7, 1581, in Carew.

[75] Captain W. Rawley to Burghley, Feb. 23, 1581; Hooker in Holinshed.

[76] Raleigh to Walsingham, February 25, 1581; to Grey, May 1.

[77] Grey to Leicester, March 20, 1581; to Walsingham, May 12, June 9; to the Privy Council, June 10; Wallop and Waterhouse to Walsingham, June 10; Ormonde to Burghley, July 15.

[78] Grey to the Queen, April 26, 1581; to Walsingham, May 14; to the Privy Council, June 10 and July 10; Zouch to Walsingham, June 15; Maltby to Walsingham, June 30; Lord Grey’s services, September, 1582.

[79] St. Leger to Burghley, June 3, 1581; where it appears that Sanders died about the beginning of April; O’Sullivan, lib. iv. cap. 16; Four Masters, 1581; Camden; Hooker; Holing, S.J., in Spicilegium Ossoriense, i. 94.

[Pg 91]



Exceptions from the amnesty.

Desmond, his brother John, and Baltinglas were excepted by the Queen from the general pardon. Grey himself made several further exceptions, not, as he explained, that he wished to remove the hope of mercy, but only that he did not think them cases for pardon without further inquiry. Lady Desmond was excepted, as having encouraged the rebels to persevere, and as having remained with them rather than live under protection. David Barry, to whom Lord Barrymore had conveyed his lands, and Baltinglas’s brothers, Edmund and Walter, who were heirs-presumptive to his entailed property, were excepted, not only as important rebels, but lest the Queen should lose the escheats. Feagh MacHugh O’Byrne, ‘the minister of all wickedness in Leinster,’ refused a pardon unless a like were granted to Desmond and his brother, and unless ‘religion might be at liberty.’ Several other rebels or plotters were excepted, among whom it is only necessary to mention William Nugent, Lord Delvin’s brother, who had become the leader of a separate conspiracy. Perhaps Grey’s additions to the list of those whom Elizabeth thought unfit for pardon may have wrecked the whole scheme. July 17 was fixed as the last day for the rebels to come in, and up to that date very few penitents appeared.[80]

Conspirators welcome the amnesty.

While notorious offenders abstained from taking advantage of the Queen’s clemency, it was noticed that many inhabitants of the Pale, against whom nothing was known, were eager to accept the pardon. As early as 1575 William[Pg 92] Nugent had fallen under the suspicion of the Government, and was supposed to have an understanding with Baltinglas from the first. He eluded capture during the winter of 1580, and in March 1581 it was announced that he had conspired with some 300 of the O’Connors and MacCoghlans to raise an insurrection. A few weeks later he fled to Tirlogh Luineach O’Neill, who flatly refused to surrender him to the Lord Deputy, when he appeared in person at the Blackwater. In the autumn Nugent was back in the Pale, and suing for mercy; but he got no encouragement, and added to the weight of his offence by helping the mountain rebels to harry some of the Archbishop of Dublin’s property. When Baltinglas fled a month or two later, he made his way back to Ulster, and thence to Scotland and the Continent. A very large number of his friends and neighbours were more or less implicated, and it is easy to see why so many gentlemen of the Pale were anxious to cover themselves by accepting a pardon.[81]

Maltby in Connaught.

Clanricarde was in confinement at the time of the Smerwick affair, and it is doubtful how far he had the power to influence his sons. He persuaded the younger, William, to ask for protection, but could not make him observe the implied conditions. Maltby granted it only with a view of weakening the two elder brothers. In the meantime, and no doubt having an understanding with the Earl’s sons, 600 well-armed Scots invaded the province. They were to be paid at the rate of 4,200l. a quarter, and it was supposed that their presence would turn the scale in favour of Richard-in-Iron, Grace O’Malley’s husband, who claimed to be Lower MacWilliam by popular election only, and against Richard MacOliver, who had been made tanist by the Queen. John Burke took advantage of the occasion to plan an attack on the O’Kellies, and the Scots encamped near Shrule, where they engaged to meet the Burkes on the 1st of March. Three days before the appointed time, Maltby made his appearance. Richard-in-Iron, who had advanced within ten miles of Shrule,[Pg 93] at once drew back into Mayo, and the Clanricarde Burkes, hearing of the President’s movements, never stirred at all. The Scots were surprised, and Maltby, after killing a few, drove them before him to the Moy. They crossed the river, and he followed, but they made good their retreat into Ulster. The President then recrossed, and at Strade Abbey the two competitors for the chiefry of Mayo met him. They were both submissive enough to Maltby, but not at all polite to each other. Richard MacOliver said Richard-in-Iron was a traitor, that all those who elected him were traitors, and that he himself would refuse to be MacWilliam, except by the Queen’s appointment. The other told him he lied, and the President had to remind them that this was very improper language to use in the presence of the Queen’s representative. It was agreed that Richard-in-Iron should be MacWilliam, and that MacOliver should be sheriff of Mayo, receiving 40l. a year out of the chief-rent of his barony of Tyrawley.[82]

Clanricarde’s son hanged.

About three months later William Burke, though he was under protection, took to plundering people on the highway, and had even the audacity to offer their goods for sale at Galway. He behaved so outrageously that the townsmen laid hands on him. Nine of his men were executed by martial law, and Maltby held special sessions for the trial of the chief offender. The Grand Jury found a bill for treason, and the prisoner was then tried and convicted. The verdict was considered proof of Burke having violated his protection. The Irish annalists insinuate a breach of faith; but even a free pardon would not save a subject from the consequence of acts done after its date, and Maltby seems to have been legally justified. He refused 1,000l. for the prisoner’s life, and a like sum for that of Tirlogh O’Brien, a noted rebel who was executed two days before.[83]

John of Desmond is slain.

More than a year had passed since the capture of Smerwick, an amnesty had been proclaimed, and yet the[Pg 94] end of the rebellion seemed no nearer. On January 2 a spy came to Zouch at Cork to tell him that David Barry was at Castle Lyons and might easily be taken. The Governor waited till nine o’clock at night, and then set out with a hundred men, of whom one-half were mounted. Arriving at the castle at daybreak, he found that Barry had not arrived; but in the immediate neighbourhood he lighted accidentally upon John of Desmond with three companions. He had been sent by his brother the Earl, who himself lay north of the Blackwater, to compose a quarrel between Barry and the seneschal of Imokilly. So little danger was dreamed of that Sir John and his friends rode on ponies and without defensive armour. Patrick Condon, a noted leader, and another managed to escape, but Sir John was run through with a spear and also shot in the throat by one Fleming, who had formerly been his servant. James Fitzjohn of Strancally, a cousin of Desmond, was taken prisoner. Sir John only survived a few minutes, but he was able to say that had he lived longer he would have done more mischief, and that Henry Davells was never his friend. His body was sent to Cork and hung in chains over one of the gates for three or four years, when a great storm blew it into the river. The head was sent to Dublin as a ‘New Year’s gift’ for Grey, and stuck upon a pole on the castle wall. James Fitzjohn was executed, having first confessed that the Earl was in a sad plight, and lived only by eating at night the cows that he had killed in the day. A turquoise set in gold was found upon Sir John and was sent to the Queen; his agnus dei, with its glass and gold frame, was transmitted to the Earl of Bedford. Having been designated as his successor by James Fitzmaurice, who had the Pope’s authority for so doing, John of Desmond was acknowledged as the Catholic leader, and his death was of considerable importance. He was a man of ability, and the only person fit to manage the turbulent chiefs who had never served, and who could therefore never command.[84]

[Pg 95]

Ill-timed parsimony.

The rebellion had received a great blow, and if it had been followed up promptly all would soon have been over. But the Queen immediately ordered the discharge of 700 men, making the second reduction of the forces within three months. Zouch had now only 400 men at his disposal, and disasters of course followed. In March James Fenton, the secretary’s brother, who had succeeded Captain Apsley in West Cork, crossed over from Berehaven with the intention of provisioning Bantry Abbey, where he expected to find some of his men. David Barry, with a strong party, had already cut the detachment to pieces, and lay hidden in the building till the first boat landed. The unsuspecting soldiers were all killed. Fenton, who followed in another boat, turned back when he discovered what had happened. The Irish gave chase, but night favoured the fugitive, who landed in the darkness, and after three days’ ‘cold entertainment on the rocks,’ scrambled back to his castle, badly bruised and very hungry, but unwounded.[85]

Indecisive skirmishes.
Zouch presses Desmond hard.

In April the Baron of Lixnaw joined the rebels, and the soldiers in Kerry narrowly escaped annihilation. Captain Acham and a score of men were killed and the rest closely shut up in Ardfert Abbey, where they daily expected to be overwhelmed. The presence of a Spanish vessel may have determined the action of the Fitzmaurices. There had been a similar visitor before the descent at Smerwick, and it was thought that another and stronger force was about to fortify one of the islands off Baltimore or Castlehaven. Zouch had, however, the satisfaction of taking his revenge on David Barry. Led by John FitzEdmond of Cloyne, a noted loyalist, he surprised Barry in a wood near the Blackwater, and killed nearly 100 of his men. The defeated chief sued for protection, and Zouch granted it until his return from Kerry, whither he immediately hurried, and succeeded in relieving the beleaguered men at Ardfert. He then went to the glen of Aherlow, where Desmond himself lay. The rebels were so hard pressed that Lady Desmond took to the mountains,[Pg 96] leaving her baggage and female attendants to be captured. Zouch’s foot could not come up in time, and nothing decisive was done. Zouch took it on himself to offer the Earl life and liberty, but he demanded the restoration of all his lands and possessions. Lady Desmond, however, went to Dublin and surrendered to Grey.[86]

Lady Desmond surrenders.
Savage warfare.
Desmond’s heir.

Lady Desmond’s desertion of her husband was justly considered as a sign that he was becoming weaker, but the immediate effect was to make him freer in his movements. He plundered and devastated the whole of Tipperary, and descended the valley of the Suir almost to Waterford. At Knockgraffon, near Cahir, he defeated Ormonde’s three brothers in a fair fight, though the Butlers had greatly the superior force. In Kerry he was not opposed at all. The seneschal of Imokilly had the eastern part of Cork and the western part of Waterford at his mercy, and the estates of Lord Roche were so completely depopulated that settlers had afterwards to be brought from a distance. The style of warfare may be guessed from the Irish annalists, who remark that when Grace MacBrien, the wife of Theobald Roche, ‘saw her husband mangled, and mutilated, and disfigured, she shrieked extremely and dreadfully, so that she died that night alongside the body of her husband, and both were buried together.’ There were but fourteen men fit to bear arms left alive in the whole district round Fermoy. Ormonde’s own house at Carrick was plundered by the seneschal. On the whole it was thought that the time had not come to show mercy to important rebels, and the Queen ordered that Lady Desmond should be sent back to her husband, unless she could induce him to surrender unconditionally. Her only son, as she wrote to Burghley, ‘remained in the castle of Dublin, without any kind of learning or bringing up, or any to attend on him,’ and she begged that he might be sent to England as ‘the lesser evil of the two.’[87]

[Pg 97]

Grey is recalled.

However much the Queen may have been to blame, it was clear that Grey had not been a successful governor, and Burghley had formed a bad opinion of his capacity. He had begun with the disaster at Glenmalure, and his bloody success at Smerwick had not added much to his reputation. Sheer severity was his great resource, and he had made enemies on all sides. Yet Sidney had been severe enough, and even the children in the streets clamoured for his return. ‘Where,’ said Secretary Fenton, ‘there is so great an antipathy and dissimilitude of humour and manners between a people and their governor, then the government cannot be carried in just rule and frame no more than a wound can be healed which is plied with medicine contrary to its proper cure.’ The Queen had accused her most successful lieutenant of extravagance, but she found his successor more costly still, and she resolved to recall him. There was no great difficulty about this, for he had very often begged to be relieved, but it was feared that a bad impression would be made in Ireland. Elizabeth therefore determined to send for him under the guise of a conference. This resolution was quickly acted upon, and Grey surrendered the sword to Wallop and Loftus.[88]

Causes of Grey’s failure.
The famine in Munster.

The governor of a dependency will always be in some measure judged by the state in which he leaves the country that he has been called to rule, and, tried by this standard, not much can be said for Grey. The friend and hero of Spenser was called, as the poet himself records, ‘a bloody man, who regarded not the life of her Majesty’s subjects no more than dogs, but had wasted and consumed all, so as now she had nothing almost left, but to reign in their ashes.’ Sir Warham St. Leger, who certainly cannot be suspected of any great sympathy with the Irish people, and who was[Pg 98] not hostile to Grey, has left a terrible picture of the state of Munster. The country was ruined almost past recovery by the ruthless exaction of cess, and by the extortions of the soldiers. 30,000 at least had perished by famine within six months, and disease also was doing its work. Cork was then a small town, consisting of one street scarce a furlong in length, yet there were sometimes seventy deaths in a day and very seldom as few as twenty. John FitzEdmond of Cloyne, one of the few really loyal men in the province, had lost nineteen-twentieths of his people, and the cattle, which could never graze in safety, were as lean as their masters. The only inhabitants in tolerable case were the actual rebels, who took freely all men’s goods and escaped disease ‘by enjoying continually the wholesome air of the fields.’ And this was Grey’s settled policy. Five counties were to be laid waste, in order that the traitors might be starved into submission. ‘I have,’ St. Leger said, ‘often told the Governor that this is far wide from the true course of government,’ for the towns would waste away, the revenues dwindle, and the whole country be exhausted by such a frightful drain. Nevertheless, the destruction was nearly as complete as it could be. Nine-tenths of the men had succumbed to the sword, the halter, or the pestilence. The women escaped better, but, taking one thing with another, a competent observer thought there were not enough people left alive to cultivate one hundredth part of the land. But the most harrowing account of all is the oft-quoted passage of Spenser, though the poet lays the blame on the people and not on their ruler. At the beginning of the war, he says, Munster was full of corn and cattle. Eighteen months had destroyed all. Lean as were the starving people, their legs would not bear them, and they crawled out of caves and glens to feed on carrion, or, like ghouls, to scrape the dead from their graves, ‘and if they found a plot of watercresses or shamrocks, there they flocked as to a feast for a time, yet not able long to continue therewithal, so that in short space there were none almost left, and a most populous and plentiful country suddenly left void of man or beast; yet sure in all that was there perished not[Pg 99] many by the sword, but all by the extremity of famine which they themselves had wrought.’[89]

Rising of William Nugent.
A chief justice executed.

If Grey was unsuccessful in dealing with Munster, he had at least driven Baltinglas to Spain and crushed the abortive rising of William Nugent. Seven persons were executed on account of one, and six on account of the other movement. Of those who suffered, the most remarkable was Nicholas Nugent, late Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, who was perhaps actuated by discontent at being removed from his place. He was uncle to Delvin and his rebellious brother, and the mode of his conviction must have added much to the hatred which was generally felt for Grey. Privy Councillors were joined in commission with the ordinary judges, ‘and with them,’ said the Lord Deputy, ‘I went in person, and sat upon the bench, to see justice more equally ministered.’ The evidence against Nugent and against Edward Cusack, who was tried at the same time, was almost wholly that of an informer, John Cusack, who had been one of the most active conspirators. Grey blames the prisoners for audaciously casting doubts on the evidence of ‘this double-dyed traitor. A verdict was, however, secured, some of the jurors knowing in their private consciences that the prisoners were far from that innocency that they pretended.’ Nugent appears to have died protesting his innocence, though he made private admissions to some officials which perhaps went to show that he was technically guilty of treason. But these admissions were not made until after his conviction, nor in open court at all. Baron Cusack, and perhaps another judge, was against the verdict. It is to be feared that the extreme severity shown was rather because Nugent was a troublesome[Pg 100] person than for anything actually rebellious that he had done. Formerly, when a Baron of the Exchequer, he had opposed the cess, and had been removed from the bench by Sidney. Gerard restored him to a higher place, and from this he was driven by Grey.[90]

Sufferings of Nugent and his wife.

William Nugent himself underwent the utmost misery. He lay in the fields without covering at night, and his friends were afraid to attract attention by bringing him as much canvas as would make a shelter-tent. His wife—the Janet Marward, whose abduction has been already related—was with her mother, Mrs. Nicholas Nugent, but his two boys were in his own keeping. Nicholas Nugent might have made his peace with the Government had he been able to get hold of the eldest; but William said the brother, wife, and child were over many hostages. Give him back his wife, and the children should be sent in exchange. The poor mother, who was half-crazed with her troubles, supported her stepfather’s request that the child should be given up, in hopes, probably, that she might thus see him. All the while John Cusack was the active agent who swore in confederates for the ‘holy cause,’ and took the lead generally. William ultimately escaped to Scotland, and thence to Italy, and his wife, after some delay, was allowed to receive the profits of her own property. Ormonde warmly supported her cause, and reminded Burghley that she had been married by force. The only charge against her was that she had sent some shirts to her destitute husband, but she was imprisoned for a whole year. ‘If any fault were,’ it was urged on the Lord Treasurer, ‘the dutiful love of a wife to a husband in that extremity may, I trust, procure some remorse towards her in your Lordship’s honourable opinion.’ The desire of the informers to get her land probably caused the harsh treatment. She was at one time on the point of starvation, and yet was accused of offering a bribe for her own safety, and fined 500l. She[Pg 101] had, she pleaded, nothing to give, and though she had friends, ‘who perhaps would have given all they had in the world rather than see her life lost,’ yet they had given nothing with her knowledge.[91]

Raleigh sides with Ormonde,

Walter Raleigh was not on good terms with Grey. ‘I like not,’ said the latter, ‘his carriage or company, and he has nothing to expect from me.’ The brilliant adventurer, who had now got Burghley’s ear, may have been influenced by this, but, whatever the reason, he seems to have turned to Ormonde, whom he had formerly depreciated. His plan for ending the Desmond rebellion was to put the Earl’s pardon and restoration altogether out of the question, and to receive to mercy and service all those chiefs who were actuated more by fear of him than by disaffection to the Government, such as Lord Fitzmaurice, MacDonough of Duhallow, Patrick Condon, and the White Knight. 700 men in garrison would do the rest. The Earl of Ormonde was to be chiefly relied on for bringing back the still rebellious chiefs to their allegiance. Raleigh’s reasons may be given in his own words: ‘There are many adhering to Desmond which heretofore was good subjects and served against the Earl, and some of them being evil used by the English soldiers and having an opinion that in the end her Majesty will both pardon and restore the Earl as heretofore he hath been, they do rather follow him for fear to be hereafter plagued by him, if now they should not follow him. And therefore if many of these were privately dealt with to return to the service of her Majesty, and to be permitted to possess their own countries quietly, and were well persuaded that the Earl should never be restored, they would be brought to serve her Majesty, &c.’

who is restored.

The soldiers, he added, if they were to be really efficient, should be able to live on their pay, for the certain evils of free quarters were worse than the risks of rebellion. This[Pg 102] reasoning prevailed, and Ormonde was appointed governor of Munster, with power to act as Raleigh had advised.[92]

Disorders of an ill-paid soldiery.

Ireland could not be held without an army, and that army was irregularly paid. The consequence was that the Queen’s peaceable subjects found their defenders more burdensome than their enemies. ‘I think in conscience,’ said Bishop Lyons ‘(speaking it with grief of heart), amongst the heathen there is no such wicked soldiers.’ In the Pale food and forage were taken without payment, ‘every soldier, having his boy or woman, would when he came in the afternoon have a meal’s meat, which they term a “Kusshyinge,” and then after that his supper, and if the poor people when they came offered them such as they had, as bread, milk, butter, cheese, or eggs, they would have none of it, but would have flesh, and when they found poultry or sheep they would kill them, and every soldier would have a quarter of that mutton or poultry at his pleasure, with the reversion of which he would break his fast in the morning and have sixpence for his dinner, for all which they would pay nothing, nor captain nor officer give their bill, whereby the ordinary allowance might be answered of the country.’ Men, and even women, were beaten to death, and a great part of Kildare lay waste. A proper composition, in lieu of cess, and increased pay were the only remedies which the Irish Government could suggest. In Munster there was scarcely any attempt made to levy a regular cess, but the soldiers took whatever they could find. If the mayor or citizens of Cork interceded for their miserable neighbours, they received such answers as, ‘Ye are but beggars, rascals, and traitors, and I am a soldier and a gentleman.’ Under these circumstances it is not wonderful that Desmond’s band was 1,000 strong, that the rebels reaped the corn everywhere, and that Captain Smith and his company, who were among the worst offenders, were cut to pieces at Ardfert. The cattle were swept away at noon from under the walls of Cashel. The seneschal of Imokilly plundered freely in the[Pg 103] immediate neighbourhood of Cork, and the mayor pursued them in vain—luckily, in St. Leger’s opinion, for the citizen soldiers were fit only to defend walls, and scarcely to do that against any serious attack.[93]

Desmond’s cruelty.

Desmond was strong for the moment, but his cruel and impolitic conduct shows that he was a desperate man. Four gentlemen of the Geraldines, who had refused to follow him were captured and sentenced by his council of war to be hanged. But the Earl said that every Geraldine who failed him should be cut in pieces, and called on as many as loved him to give the prisoner a stroke of the sword. They were accordingly ‘cut in gobbets,’ in Desmond’s presence. He attacked the O’Keefes, a loyal clan upon the upper Blackwater, killed the chief’s son and other prisoners, and took ‘the Vicar of Oskallie, and put out upon him a jury of twelve of the Earl’s men, which jury passed upon him and condemned him to death, seeing he was a true subject to her Majesty, and held office under her highness always.’ Of the whole party, O’Keefe alone was spared, and he was badly wounded.[94]

Death of Clanricarde, whose sons come to terms.

From Maltby in Connaught came the only news which could possibly be called good. Old Clanricarde was at last liberated about the end of June, and a few weeks later he died at Galway of jaundice, aggravated by vexation at the sight of his ruined castle and wasted country. With his last breath he cursed his sons should they prove disobedient subjects, and thanked the Queen for her clemency. The young men soon came in and professed their willingness to have disputes settled according to law, but Secretary Fenton observed that it would be easy to make a civil faction between them, and cut off one without disturbing the province. There was little difficulty in proving that Ulick, the elder brother,[Pg 104] was Earl, and the more difficult matter of the lands was settled quietly, and with at least some show of amity. Each competitor gave a bond in 10,000l. to abide by the award, which was based upon the principle of equal division, first choice being in some cases given to the Earl. The whole barony of Leitrim was given to John absolutely, and the title was afterwards conferred upon him. The castles of Portumna and Loughrea were awarded to Ulick; the brothers agreed to surrender Ballinasloe to Maltby. The right of some other Burkes were defined, and in general terms it may be said that the baronies of Dunkellin, Loughrea, and Longford remained with the Earl, though some parcels were excepted. The award was accepted, but the hatred of the brothers was of too long standing to be thus appeased, and it was not long before it broke out again.[95]

General famine.

Famine and pestilence continued to rage through the summer, autumn, and winter of 1582. All Waterford, Limerick, and Cork, and a great part of Tipperary, were spoiled. 200 or 300 kine for the public service were as much as could be had for love or money. ‘The wolf and the best rebel lodged in one inn, with one diet and one kind of bedding.’ Archbishop Loftus being, as Spenser says, more mildly disposed, as ‘was meet for his profession,’ than his colleague Wallop, was so horrified that he advised Burghley to pardon Desmond. There might, he said, be some question of the Queen’s honour if the war of Ireland was like other wars, between one prince and another, but this was against a subject, bare, rude, and savage. The only honour to be had was by healing the sores of the poor subjects. For the famine was not confined to Munster, but ran its course even in Dublin under the eyes of the Lords Justices.

A horse of Secretary Fenton’s was accidentally burned, and was eaten by the people before it was half-roasted. Another of Wallop’s died, and was devoured, entrails and all, apparently without any preparation. It became, indeed, a[Pg 105] regular thing ‘to eat the carcasses of dead horses, and to buy them at the soldiers’ hands.’ The Lords Justices admitted that this was a lamentable thing to happen under a Christian prince. The Irish, however, they explained, were less averse to carrion than other people; still they could not but be grieved that the soldiers should extort money for any such wares. The fact is that all were starving alike.[96]

St. Leger seeks to treat with Desmond,
and foretells Ormonde’s failure.

Sir Warham St. Leger, who hated Ormonde and all his works, attributed the evil state of Munster to the ‘cockling and dandling of hollow-hearted wretches,’ in pursuance of the Earl’s policy. In the meantime he intrigued for a capitulation on Desmond’s part. He had taken the Seneschal’s natural son—a boy of seven—‘as like him as if he had spit him out of his mouth,’ and proposed to hang him in case the father should break out again. In the meantime he endeavoured to treat with Desmond through his means, but the rebel Earl was buoyed up constantly with the hopes of aid from abroad. The Countess persuaded him never to write anything, for fear of compromising himself with foreign princes. St. Leger was authorised to offer him his life, restraint without any imprisonment in some part of England or Ireland, and hope of further mercy for himself and child; but a full restoration was not to be thought of. There seems to have been little sincerity in the negotiation, though doubtless both the Queen and Burghley would have been glad to avoid further expense; and Ormonde, on his arrival, found the state of affairs unaltered. St. Leger foretold his failure. The protectees would fail him, and he would have enough to do to keep his own. ‘He is,’ he said, ‘a person most odious of all men to Desmond’s friends.... It is death to all the lords and chieftains of both factions to have English government come among them, for they know that if English government be established here, their Irish exactions is laid aground; the which to forego they had as leave die, such is[Pg 106] their devilish consciences.’ How true was the prophecy as to Ormonde’s failure will appear hereafter.[97]

Ormonde returns to Ireland with fresh powers 1583.

After many delays Ormonde was at last despatched, and 1,000 men were assigned to be under his orders in Munster. He had power to promise pardon to all rebels except Desmond himself. His pay and allowances were calculated on a liberal scale, amounting in all to over 4,000l. a year, and his rents due to the Crown were suspended until he should be able to make the lands profitable. Much was left to his discretion. Thus, rebels who surrendered might have a promise of their lands in consideration of a reasonable rent. 300 men were sent from Devon and Cornwall, Cheshire and Lancashire, Somersetshire and Gloucestershire, to fill up the gaps in the Irish garrisons. A large store of provisions was sent; but, on landing, Ormonde found Waterford, Tipperary, Cork, and Limerick in such a state that he thought it would not last for two months. His personal allowance was fixed at 3l. a day, but Wallop at once made a difficulty about paying this and many other claims. Ormonde, he said, was already too great for Ireland, and desired to be absolute in his government. Money no doubt was scarce in Dublin, but the Vice-Treasurer was advised to satisfy the Earl’s demands. The new governor lost no time in preparing for action, but he complained bitterly that companies were defective, that troops of horse were mounted on borrowed ponies, and that he was expected to perform impossibilities. He was ordered not to have more than four per cent. of Irishmen in any band; whereas Englishmen could not be had, and the Irish were the best shots.[98]

[Pg 107]

Gallant defence of Youghal.

While Munster waited for its new governor, the Seneschal of Imokilly made two attempts to get possession of Youghal. Just at the beginning of winter, some English soldiers, who were probably unpaid, agreed to open the gates; but the plot was discovered. More than two months later, two goldsmiths, who pretended to be soldiers, were admitted into the town. On the appointed night one kept the guard drinking while the other held a ladder for the assailants, whose plan was to occupy every stone house, and to cut it off from the gates. Fortunately, the soldiers had only a few days before broken down a stair leading from the walls, and thus only a few rebels were able to descend at a time. Two houses were, however, taken, and held for three days, in one of which the seneschal, in cold blood and with his own hands, knocked out the brains of six soldiers. Dermod Magrath, Papal Bishop of Cork and Cloyne, and ‘a very learned man in the papist doctrine,’ was present, and persuaded him not to kill any of the townsmen. The Sovereign, or Burgomaster, Francis Agnes (or Anes), behaved with great gallantry, and on the rumoured approach of troops from Waterford, the seneschal withdrew, having lost some sixty men, but carrying away a great quantity of corn, wine, beef, and hides, and leaving half the town in ashes. Cork was asked to send men to the relief of Youghal, but that city had none to spare, having itself been pressed by the rebels, who came up to the very walls and carried off the linen which was drying on the hedges. One of Ormonde’s first cares was to reinforce the garrison of Youghal.[99]

Ormonde shuts Desmond up in Kerry, and his adherents fall away.

In order to put down the Munster rebellion, the first thing was to localise it. The Queen herself had suggested that if Desmond could be kept out of Tipperary and Waterford, it would be comparatively easy to deal with him, and this was the plan adopted by Ormonde. At first he fixed his headquarters at Clonmel, whence the woods of Aherlow were easily accessible, and the Seneschal of Imokilly, who lay there, was harassed by the garrisons of Limerick and Kilmallock. In a[Pg 108] month after Ormonde’s arrival, Desmond fled to the borders of Kerry, and his adherents began to desert him fast. Patrick Condon and over 300 others received protections, which they showed a disposition to pay for with the heads of their late comrades. The Baron of Lixnaw submitted about the end of March and was followed in a few days by Gerald MacThomas, called Toneboyreagh, who had long kept the county of Limerick disturbed, and now served well against his late associates. About the same time Lady Desmond came to Ormonde under a twenty days’ protection, but as she still demanded life, liberty, and property for her husband, no terms were granted to her. She then surrendered unconditionally, rather than return to such misery as she had lately endured. Early in June the Seneschal of Imokilly also made his submission, and Desmond was thus deprived of his last important supporter. The rebellion was now confined to Kerry and West Cork, and thither Ormonde repaired about the end of June.[100]

Desmond is hard pressed;

A few days before Ormonde’s arrival Desmond and his wife had a narrow escape from a night attack by the garrison of Kilmallock. The bed in which they had lain was found warm by the soldiers, into whose hands ‘the countess’s gentlewoman’ and others fell. A fog covered the flight of the two principal personages; but cattle, plate, jewels, and wardrobes were all captured. The presence of a lady and her attendants no doubt acted as a clog, and Desmond himself was becoming infirm. The old hurt received at Affane was likely to be aggravated by cold and fatigue, and a month later he had to be carried in his shirt by four men into a bog, and ferried over a river in a trough to escape from a sudden attack by Captain Thornton. After this he fled into Kerry, and it was reported that he would be glad if possible to escape by sea. He was too closely watched for this, but after the failure of his wife’s mission, he still refused to come to[Pg 109] Ormonde. The following letter to St. Leger may well be given entire:—

but will not come to Ormonde,

‘Sir Warham, where I understand that the Earl of Ormonde giveth forth that I should submit myself before him as attorney to Her Majesty, you may be sure he doth report more thereof than I have sent him either by word or writing. But this I have offered in hope to prove the unreasonable wrong and injuries done unto me by her Highness’s officers in this realm from time to time, unguilty in me behalf as God knoweth. I am contented upon these conditions so as me country, castles, possessions, and lands, with me son, might be put and left in the hands and quiet possession of me counsel and followers, and also me religion and conscience not barred, with a pardon, protection, and passport for me own body to pass and repass. I would have gone before her Majesty to try all those causes just and true on me part, as I still do allege if I might be heard or may have indifference, and likewise hoping that I might have more justice, favour, and grace at her Majesty’s hands when I am before herself than here at the hands of such of her cruel officers as have me wrongfully proclaimed, and so thereby thinking that her Majesty and I may agree; if not that I may be put safe in the hands of me followers again, and I to deliver me son and me said possessions back to her Majesty’s officers. Dated at Feale the 28th of April, 1583.—Gerot Desmond.

who insists on an unconditional surrender.

Ormonde would hear of nothing but an unconditional surrender, and continued to ply his double policy of war and clemency. Before the end of May he could announce that 134 had been slain, and 247 protected, since those last mentioned. The few remaining rebels were reduced to horseflesh or carrion, and Desmond himself knew not where to lay his head. He had still eighty men with him, but his pride was sufficiently humbled to make him address Ormonde directly. He could not, he said, accuse himself of disloyalty, but confessed that he had been misled, and pleaded that he had been tyrannously used. He begged for a conference, ‘humbly craving that you will please to appoint some place and time where I may attend upon your honour.’ Ormonde, who was[Pg 110] justly proud at this falsification of St. Leger’s prediction, would not alter his terms, and a few days afterwards reported that the rebel’s eighty followers were reduced to twenty. A little later, when he was himself marching towards Kerry, he learned that the fugitive’s retinue consisted of only five persons—a priest, two horsemen, one kerne, and a boy. The people of the South-West had already experience enough of an invasion by Ormonde, and hastened on all sides to make terms for themselves. There were rumours that the Queen was getting tired of the war, and that he would be recalled. He was, he said, so confident of success that he was ready to begin the reduction of the forces under his command. Success was very near when he had been removed before, and he begged that the mistake might not be repeated. ‘Thus,’ he said, ‘am I handled, and do break the ice for others to pass with ease.’[101]

St. Leger thwarts Ormonde.

Sir Warham St. Leger did all that he possibly could to thwart Ormonde. Protections to rebels were, he said, bad things, which enabled traitors to extort from good subjects. Henry VIII., he reminded the Queen, had quieted the Pale for years by first making a somewhat dishonourable peace with the rebels, ‘and then paying them home.’ His advice was that Desmond should be received to life and liberty. ‘I dare,’ he added, ‘adventure the loss of one of my arms, which I would not willingly lose for all the lands and livings that ever he had, he will, within one quarter of a year after he is so received (if the matter be well and politically handled), be wrought to enter into new treasons, and thereby apprehended, and his head cut off according to his due deserts.’ Any other course would be too expensive. In other words, the wretched man was to be lulled into fancied security, watched by spies and tempted by false friends until he was induced to do something technically equivalent to treason. This abominable advice was not taken, happily for Elizabeth’s honour; but constant detraction was very near shaking[Pg 111] Ormonde’s credit. Wallop and Fenton, who knew the Queen’s weak point and who hated the Earl for his independent conduct and position, lost no opportunity of showing what a costly luxury her Lord-General was. Walsingham urged Ormonde to make a quick end lest her Majesty should repent, and he afterwards repeated St. Leger’s sentiments and almost his very words about the impolicy of granting protections. Burghley, however, stood firm, and it was probably through his influence that some of St. Leger’s letters to the Queen were kept from her eye and sent back to Ormonde, who accused his adversary of offering to secure mercy for Desmond if he would only hold out until the Earl was no longer governor of Munster, and of giving out that his supersession was resolved on. Ormonde says he heard this from rebels who were likely to know the truth, that it was confirmed by a priest who had long been with Desmond, and that the latter had thus been ‘animated’ to hold out although in great straits. Ormonde thought Wallop disliked him nearly as much as St. Leger, and the Vice-Treasurer’s own letters bear out this opinion.[102]

Ormonde scours Kerry.

Fate, or Burghley, had, however, decreed that Ormonde should be allowed to finish the business in his own way, and the sad story may now be told to the end. There was no more fighting to be done, and at the end of June the Lord General passed through Tipperary and Limerick into Kerry. He visited Castle Island, Castlemaine, and Dingle, a principal object of the journey being to prevent Desmond escaping by sea. Castlemaine he found roofless and in ruins, and that famous hold was never again destined to resist the royal power. Clancare, the two O’Sullivans, and other gentlemen came to him with assurances of fidelity, and not the slightest resistance was offered anywhere. The[Pg 112] protected people, he said, had generally served well, and were supported by their friends without charge to the Queen. Those who did no service had given hostages, and the work of reducing the garrisons might now be at once begun. The rebels were weary of the war and were ploughing the land; sword, law, and famine had done their work. In all his journey to the farthest point of Kerry, and back by Kinsale to Cork, Ormonde had to tell of no enemy but Sir Warham St. Leger, ‘who dwelleth in Cork Castle to small purpose for any good service he doth... drinking and writing (saving your honour) shameful lies.’[103]

Desmond is driven into a corner.

Early in August St. Leger reported that Desmond had crossed the Shannon and escaped to Scotland; but there was no truth in this. He was confined to that part of Kerry which lies north of Castlemaine and to the mountainous corner of Cork where the Blackwater rises. Ormonde was pretty confident that he would be captured, and none of the protected men relapsed except Goran MacSwiney, a captain of gallowglasses. Orders were sent to reduce the army in Munster from 1,000 to 600, and to prepare, if possible, for a further reduction to 200. On the very day that this order was penned Lord Roche was able to announce that he had very nearly taken Desmond, and that he had actually taken his chaplain, who was not so well horsed as the rest. ‘I would,’ Ormonde wrote to Burghley, ‘this chaplain and I were for one hour with you in your chamber, that you might know the secrets of his heart, which by fair means or foul he[Pg 113] must open unto me.’ The poor man was coupled with a handlock to one of Ormonde’s servants, so that no one could speak to him privately. And thus the hunted chief was deprived of his last adviser.[104]

Death of Desmond.

On November 1, Goran MacSwiney was killed, and Ormonde proceeded to discharge 110 foot and 12 horse. Even yet a few desperate men adhered to Desmond, and he might have long eluded his pursuers but for an outrage done in his name. On November 9, he sent twenty men on a plundering expedition to the south side of Tralee Bay, and they drove off forty cows and some horses belonging to Maurice O’Moriarty, whose house they robbed, and whose wife and children they barbarously stripped naked. Next day, having first asked leave from Lieutenant Stanley at Dingle, the O’Moriarties, with near a score of kerne and some half-dozen soldiers of the garrison of Castlemaine, traced the lost cattle to the woods of Glanageenty, about five miles to the east of Tralee. Owen O’Moriarty climbed the hill by moonlight, and looking down into the deep glen saw a fire beneath him, which was found to proceed from a cabin. The hut was surrounded, and at daybreak the O’Moriarties entered. Taken unawares and but half-awake, Desmond’s companion only thought of escaping, and he was left behind and wounded in the arm with a sword-cut by a soldier named Daniel O’Kelly. ‘I am the Earl of Desmond,’ he cried, ‘save my life!’ ‘Thou hast killed thyself long ago,’ said Owen O’Moriarty, and now thou shalt be prisoner to the Queen’s Majesty and the Earl of Ormonde, Lord General of Munster.’ They carried him some distance, but a rescue was imminent, and Owen ordered O’Kelly to strike off the prisoner’s head, since it was impossible to fight thus encumbered. The soldier obeyed, and the head was carried to Castlemaine, and from thence to Ormonde at Kilkenny. The ghastly trophy was by him sent to the Queen. As the best evidence against those who ‘spoke malicious lies touching the service and state of Munster,’ it[Pg 114] was exposed on London Bridge. The like exposure at Cork was designed for the headless trunk, but friendly hands hid it for eight weeks, and finally deposited it in a neighbouring chapel where only Fitzgeralds were buried, and which is still called ‘the church of the name.’[105]

Desmond a popular hero.

The spot where Desmond was decapitated is marked by a mound, and retains the name of Bothar-an-Iarla, or the Earl’s way. A gigantic elder formerly overshadowed the place, and in our own day it is covered by a young oak, a holly, and a bright tangle of ferns and foxgloves. A good carriage-road runs through the once inaccessible glen, and marks the difference between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. Desmond’s death closes the mediæval history of Munster, and it is no wonder that much legendary glory attaches to his name. He was a man of little talent or virtue, though he need not be too severely condemned for refusing to see that the days of feudal or tribal independence were over. But the past has an irresistible attraction for Irish sentiment, and the popular ear is more readily opened to fable than to historical truth. With nothing heroic about him, the unhappy Earl is still honoured as a hero; but even the fidelity of tradition to his memory is less than that of the natives to him while he yet lived. Let thus much be said in honour of the poor kerne, who stood so staunchly in a doubtful cause. The Earl’s ghost, mounted on a phantom steed with silver shoes, is said sometimes to rise at night from the waters of Lough Gur; and when the west wind comes up fitfully from the sea and makes slates and windows rattle, the Kerry people still call upon travellers to listen to the Desmond howl.[106]

[Pg 115]


[80] Grey to the Privy Council, July 10, 1581; Wallop to Walsingham, July 17.

[81] Wallop to Walsingham, March 8, 1581; L. Bryskett to Walsingham, April 21; Grey to the Queen, August 10; G. Fenton to Leicester, September 1; and to Burghley, September 21.

[82] Relation of Sir N. Maltby’s proceedings, March 23, 1581.

[83] Maltby to Walsingham, June 30, 1581; Four Masters, 1581. From Maltby’s letter of September 20, it appears that Burghley approved of William Burke’s execution.

[84] Zouch to Burghley, January 5, 1582; White Knight to Ormonde, same date; William Wendover to Fenton, January 6; Grey to Walsingham, January 13; Russell; O’Daly.

[85] The Queen to Grey, January 28, 1582; G. Fenton to Walsingham, March 28; St. Leger to Fenton, March 24.

[86] G. Fenton to Walsingham, May 8, 1582; St. Leger to Walsingham, and Justice Meade to same, May 28; Loftus and Wallop to Walsingham, June 7; Grey to Walsingham, June 16.

[87] Maltby to Walsingham, June 17, 1582; Wallop to Walsingham, June 21; Walsingham to Grey, June 25; Lady Desmond to Burghley, August 28; Lords Justices to the Privy Council, October 12; Four Masters, 1582; O’Daly.

[88] G. Fenton to Walsingham, November 5, 1581. In a letter to Walsingham of July 2, 1582, Grey complains that Burghley listens to slanderers; the Queen’s opinion, &c., July, No. 76. The sword was delivered August 31.

[89] Spenser’s View of the State of Ireland. This is one of the many passages tending to prove that the original shamrock was the wood-sorrel, and not the white clover, which could never have been edible; consult Bentham’s British Flora under Oxalis, and see below note to chapter 52. St. Leger to the Queen, March 12, 1582, to Burghley, April 20; Justice Meade to Walsingham, May 28. The soldiers were nearly as badly off as the natives, Dowdall to Walsingham, April 24. In the relation of Lord Grey’s services (September 1582) is mentioned ‘the general destruction of the enemy’s churls.’ The churls were the non-combatant country folk.

[90] Grey to the Privy Council, April 12, 1582; to Walsingham, May 7; a friend to Mrs. Nugent, July 5, 1583; Sidney’s Brief Relation, 1583. Sir Robert Dillon, who succeeded Nugent as Chief Justice, was much blamed for his conduct in this case; see his letter to Walsingham, June 25, 1582.

[91] John Nugent’s confession, February 5, 1582; petition to Burghley, September (No. 85); Ormonde to Burghley, May 30, 1583; Janet Nugent’s petition, August 30; warrants for the remission of her fine and for restoration to her property, April 18, 1584. It is stated that the fine was imposed on the information of John Cusack. William Nugent left Ireland in or before January 1582.

[92] Grey to Walsingham, May 7, 1582; Mr. Rawley’s opinion, October 25. Ormonde’s appointment was announced on December 3.

[93] The Bishop of Ross to the Lords Justices, October 9, 1582, with remarks by the Lords Justices; Auditor Jenyson to Burghley, September 4; St. Leger to Burghley, September 22, and to the Lords Justices, September 26; the Portreeve of Cashel to the Lords Justices, September 28.

[94] Letter from Onor Cartye enclosed in one from the Lords Justices to Walsingham, October 3, 1582; St. Leger to Burghley and Walsingham, September 22.

[95] Maltby to Walsingham, June 21, 1582; Clanricarde to Maltby, July 7; Fenton to Leicester, August 13; to Walsingham, August 23. The award is in Carew, under November 17.

[96] Barnaby Gooche to Burghley, August 27, 1582; Justice Meade to the Lords Justices, October 13; Lord Justice Loftus to Burghley, November 5; Lords Justices to Burghley, December 8; Spenser’s State of Ireland.

[97] St. Leger to Fenton, October 31; to the Queen and to Burghley, November 26, 1582; Burghley to Loftus and Fenton, and to St. Leger, December 9; St. Leger to Burghley and Walsingham, February 2, 1583.

[98] Earl of Ormonde’s demands, &c., November 1582; Walsingham to Wallop, December 6; Burghley to the Lords Justices, December 8; Rate for 1,000 men to be sent into Munster, December 15; Lords Justices to Burghley, January 5, 1583; Ormonde to Walsingham, January 27; Wallop to Walsingham, February 7 and March 6; Minute for the Lords Justices, March 5; Ormonde to the Lords Justices, March 20. Ormonde left London, or Windsor, December 22, and landed at Waterford (viâ Milford) January 21, having been long hindered by storms.

[99] St. Leger to Burghley, Oct. 29, 1582, and Jan. 16, 1583; and to Walsingham, Feb. 11.

[100] G. Fenton to Burghley, Feb. 24, 1583; Ormonde to the Privy Council, Feb. 28 and April 5; to the Queen, April 24; to the Privy Council and to Burghley and Walsingham, May 28; to the Lords Justices, June 15; to the Queen, June 18; to Walsingham, June 22; Thomas Mynne to Wallop, April 9.

[101] G. Fenton to Walsingham, Jan. 16; St. Leger to Walsingham, Feb. 11; Sir W. Stanley to Fenton, May 25; Desmond to Ormonde, June 5; Ormonde to Burghley and to the Queen, June 18; to Burghley, June 22.

[102] St. Leger to the Queen, May 8 and Aug. 5 (the latter was intercepted); to Burghley, Aug. 5 and Oct. 19; to Walsingham, Aug. 5, 1583, and Sept. 14, 1584; Ormonde to Burghley, Oct. 20, 1583; to the Privy Council, Jan. 23, 1584; to Burghley, Jan. 26, 1584; Walsingham to Ormonde, March 25 and June 12, 1583; Lords Justices to Walsingham, June 18, 1583; G. Fenton to Walsingham, May 30, 1583. The tone of all Wallop’s and Fenton’s letters is unfriendly to Ormonde.

[103] Ormonde to Burghley and to Walsingham, July 10, 1583. The nobles and gentlemen who came to Ormonde at Cork and gave pledges were as follows:—Earl of Clancare; Lords Barrymore, Roche, Kinsale and Lixnaw; Sirs—Thomas of Desmond, Owen MacCarthy Reagh, Owen O’Sullivan, Barry Roe, Lord Lixnaw’s son Patrick, the White Knight, Patrick Condon, the seneschal of Imokilly, Cormac MacDermot, nephew to Sir Cormac MacTeig, Callaghan MacTeig MacCarthy, brother to Sir Cormac MacTeig, O’Sullivan More, Donell, nephew to Sir Owen O’Sullivan, O’Donoghue More (inhabiting in MacCarthy More’s country), O’Donoghue of Glenflesk, MacDonogh MacCarthy of Duhallow, O’Keefe, MacAuliffe, O’Callaghan, MacFynnyne, William, brother to the Knight of Kerry, Thomas Oge, seneschal of Kerry, Donogh MacCragh (a rhymer), and divers captains of gallowglasses of the MacSwineys and the MacSheehy’s.

[104] St. Leger to Burghley, Aug. 5 and Oct. 19, 1583; N. White to Burghley, Aug. 24; Ormonde to Burghley, Sept. 4 and 23 (the latter enclosing Lord Roche’s letter); Privy Council to Ormonde, Sept. 19.

[105] I have followed the strictly contemporary account printed by Archdeacon Rowan in the Kerry Magazine (Jan. 1854), and reprinted by Miss Hickson in Old Kerry Records. No other account is so full, and it is easily reconciled with the Four Masters and with Ormonde’s letters printed by Mr. Gilbert in vol. iv. of the Irish National MSS, and see Ormonde to Walsingham and Burghley, Nov. 28, and Smith’s Cork.

[106] The spot where Desmond fell is on the right bank, rather low down in the glen. No doubt the cabin where he spent the night was higher up. In the survey made by Sir Valentine Browne and others, and privately printed by Mr. S. M. Hussey, is the following passage: ‘A great wood here and there, filled with oak-trees fit for house timber, but not large enough for the making of ships and castles. But the greater part of the said wood consists in underwood of the age of fifty and sixty years, filled with dotted trees—ash, hazels, sallows, willows, alders, birches, white-thorns and such like.... The wood is called Glanageenty, in which the late Earl of Desmond was slain in his rebellion, containing in length about four miles, and in breadth two miles, which said woods, because no woods there are saleable, and they lie under the mountains of Slew-Logher, far from any river or navigable stream, are here valued at nil.’ I inspected the ground in June 1883.

[Pg 116]



Sir John Perrott is made Lord Deputy.

As early as December 1582, Sir John Perrott had been spoken of as Grey’s successor. His actual appointment was, however, deferred for more than a year, Loftus and Wallop continuing to act as Lords Justices till June 1584. They were fortunate in seeing the end of the Desmond rebellion, but less so in having to deal with those who had been engaged in it. Lady Desmond, in her poverty, subsisted upon a pension allowed her by Ormonde, until the Queen’s pleasure should be known; and the protections which he had given to the seneschal of Imokilly, Patrick Condon, and other leaders, were respected. Wallop did not like the Lord-General, but he did not thwart him seriously. Piers Grace, an old and notorious offender in the Kilkenny district, was pardoned at the Earl’s intercession, and the Lords Justices observed that they would not have done it for anyone else.[107]

Archbishop O’Hurley.
His treatment at Rome.

In 1581, after the death of Fitzgibbon, Gregory XIII. appointed Dermod O’Hurley to the Archbishopric of Cashel. He had spent fifteen years at Louvain and four at Rheims, and he was deeply engaged in the plans of Irish exiles against Elizabeth’s government. We get a glimpse of him at Rome not long after his appointment, and find him, like his predecessor, occupied in schemes for the invasion of Ireland. The caution of the Italian ecclesiastic is, as usual, contrasted with the sanguine temper of the exiles. Christopher Barnewall, who had been sent to the Continent by Baltinglas, was introduced by O’Hurley to Cardinal Como, and informed him that Kildare and Delvin were in prison, though both had served[Pg 117] against the Wicklow rebels. ‘Who,’ said the Cardinal, with an expressive shrug, ‘would trust an Irishman? The Earl promised to take our part.’ O’Hurley thought he had not gone so far. ‘Wilt thou tell me?’ answered the Italian angrily, and produced a letter from Kildare and a document signed by most of the Lords of Ulster, Munster, and Connaught, which made his view good. ‘Do you think,’ he said, ‘that we would have trusted to James Fitzmaurice and Stukeley, or to all these lords which subscribed the great letter, unless we had received this letter from the Earl of Kildare? The Pope has no money for any of your nation.’[108]

O’Hurley reaches Ireland,
where he is tortured
and hanged.

O’Hurley landed at Drogheda in September, 1583, bringing letters from Rome with him. He was harboured by Lord Slane, whose daughter was married to Ormonde’s natural son Piers, and in the latter’s company he went into Munster after a few days’ rest. The Archbishop, who was soon hunted down, with Ormonde’s help, made no secret of having been engaged in the work of the Inquisition, and charged Kildare and Delvin with the late insurrection—thus showing that Barnewall had spoken truly. Walsingham recommended the use of ‘torture, or any other severe manner of proceeding, to gain his knowledge of all foreign practices against Her Majesty’s states.’ The Lords Justices objected that they had no rack nor other such instrument of terror, and that the Tower of London would be a fitter place for the experiment. Walsingham then advised them to toast the prisoner’s feet at the fire with hot boots. A commission was accordingly made out to Fenton and Waterhouse, and the ordeal was applied with frightful severity. The letters brought by O’Hurley had been intercepted, and could not therefore be denied, but nothing of importance was elicited. A letter which he had written to Ormonde was produced, and the Lords Justices took care to hint at the Earl’s complicity, but without effect. The lawyers held that an indictment for treasons committed abroad would not lie, and in any case a trial by jury was not to be risked. The Lords Justices suggested martial law, to which, as they grimly observed, the[Pg 118] landless Archbishop could not fairly object. Seeing that further torture would be useless Walsingham agreed to this course, and noted the Queen’s ‘good acceptation of their careful travail in this matter.’ Throughout the correspondence it is evident that Elizabeth and all her servants looked upon O’Hurley mainly as a traitor and not as a recusant; and that defence of their conduct may stand for what it is worth. The torture is indefensible; but it was only too common in those days, and O’Hurley himself had been an Inquisitor. The Archbishop was hanged privately in the Castle early on June 19, after the arrival of Perrott, but before he had been sworn in.[109]

Help comes from Spain,
but it is too late.

There can be no doubt that the court of Rome had urged upon that of Spain the necessity of relieving Desmond. But Philip II. was never in time, and his energies, such as they were, were absorbed by Portuguese affairs. It was not until the final defeat of Strozzi’s expedition to the Azores that Irish exiles could get their business attended to. The Cardinal[Pg 119] of Como became friendly once more, and sent for William Nugent almost as often as the post arrived from Spain, saying that he remembered him at every turn of his beads. The Pope saw Nugent every six weeks, and the intervals were spent in making interest with Gregory’s son Giacomo, whose influence over the aged Pontiff had become very great. It was confidently reported that the whole Spanish fleet would sail for Ireland on its return from the Azores, but only two ships actually arrived. The papal bishop of Killaloe, Cornelius Ryan, had been sent by Desmond to Spain towards the end of 1582. In the spring of 1583 it was announced that help was coming, but it may have been delayed until the return of Santa Cruz and his fleet. Desmond had been dead nearly two months when the tardy succour arrived. Bishop Ryan appeared on the west coast with one large ship laden with artillery. Another, also with munitions of war, anchored in Ringabella Bay outside Cork harbour, and sent a boat, which brought off a countryman. Of those on board the chief spokesman was a friar named Shane O’Ferrall, who wept bitterly on hearing of Desmond’s death. A Spaniard wrote down all the particulars. ‘Is there none of the Earl’s name,’ he asked, ‘that will take upon him to follow and maintain that enterprise? You say none. Well, if any had continued it until now, we had brought here to furnish them treasure and munition good store, and shortly they should have had more, and aid enough.’ There were three bags of silver and two of gold, each as much as a man could carry. A present was sent by O’Ferrall to a lady living close by—marmalade, lemons and figs, a poignard, and a taffeta scarf—and then finding their occupation gone, the strangers left the coast. Don Antonio and Philip Strozzi had not saved Portugal, but they had destroyed Spanish influence in Ireland.[110]

Murder of John Burke;
his popularity.
Clanricarde is pardoned.

Within a week of Desmond’s death the newly made Baron of Leitrim came to a violent end. Public opinion attributed the deed to his brother, and no doubt he profited largely by it. Clanricarde himself said that he had inter[Pg 120]cepted a band of traitors in the Baron’s company, and that he fell in the scuffle. His sister, Lady Mary, clamoured loudly for vengeance, but the Earl found means to silence her. A competent English observer tells us that ‘Sir John of the Shamrocks,’ as the Irish called him, was the best beloved man in Connaught, perhaps in all Ireland. ‘He was very well spoken, he was courteous, he was liberal to every man that had occasion to try him, in his house he was very bountiful, and he wrote better than any Irishman whose letters I have seen.... First he would speak fair to every man, and mean no truth to any man that was honest. He had always a treasonable mind, and did ever thirst after blood. He was betrothed to one woman, and, leaving her, he was married to two others; they are all three alive. He was a common haunter of women, and men say he had a child by his own sister, and a great maintainer of thieves he was.... The Earl will not steal from one to give to another. He will not spare the offender for any respects; I mean thieves: other offenders are seldom punished in Ireland, and never among the Irish.’ The Earl offered to prove the incest by irrefutable witnesses. The Lord Justice thought the simplest plan was to attribute the murder to the mutual hatred between the half-brothers since their cradles. They advised that Clanricarde’s future good conduct should be secured by a pardon, ‘especially in those remote parts where so many heinous facts contrary to the laws of God and man have been infinitely borne with in all ages.’ Three years before, when Clanricarde was ill, it was generally supposed that his brother had poisoned him. To avoid further confusion the English Government thought it better to allow a pardon. The murdered man had no legitimate children, and the peerage died with him. This long-standing faction fight was now at an end; the Earl was undisputed master over all the possessions of his house, and became the mainstay of English law and order in the West.[111]

[Pg 121]

Trial by combat.

The once mighty tribe of the Leinster O’Connors had fallen very low, but even the miserable remnant could not keep from internecine war. Teig MacGilpatrick, who led one party, was accused by Connor MacCormac of killing men who were under protection. Connor retorted that they had broken into rebellion since protection was granted. The Lords Justices persuaded Connor, and Sir Nicholas White persuaded Teig to appear and accuse each other. An appeal of treason was thus technically constituted, and for this they were told that trial by battle was the proper remedy. Fearing, it would appear, that the courage of the litigants might ooze away, the combat was fixed for the next day. The Lords Justices and Council sat solemnly in the inner Castle yard, the display being made more impressive by a large attendance of military officers. The proper ceremonies were observed, and the Lords Justices were careful to excuse any possible want of accuracy by pleading the shortness of the time. The combatants who were allowed only sword, target, and skull-cap, were stripped to their shirts and searched by Secretary Fenton himself. They then took their seats on two stools at opposite ends of the lists, and the pleadings having been read a trumpet sounded the onset. Connor, who was wounded twice in the leg and once in the eye, attempted to close, but his adversary was too strong for him. Having stunned and disarmed his accuser, Teig, who was himself seriously wounded, ‘but not mortally, the more was the pity,’ cut off his head with his own sword and presented it on the point to the Lords Justices, one of whom, be it remembered, was the Archbishop of Dublin. Fenton sent the sword to Leicester, ‘wishing her Majesty had the same end of all the O’Connors in Ireland.’ ‘We commend,’ they said, ‘the diligent travail of Sir Lucas Dillon and the Master of the Rolls, who equally and openly seemed to countenance the champions,[Pg 122] but secretly with very good concurrence with us and between themselves for her Majesty’s service.’[112]

A second trial goes by default.

The Lords Justices hoped to make more O’Connors kill one another, but a second combat arranged to take place two or three days later was frustrated by the non-appearance of the accused, a brother of the victorious Teig, who had accepted the challenge for him. His adversary, Morrogh-ni-Cogge, came into the lists and made proclamation for two hours with drums and trumpets. Morrogh was adjudged victorious, but the absent man described him as ‘readiest to fight with those that he knew were farthest off from him.’ He urged that his brother had no right to promise for him, that Morrogh was too base a fellow to place in the balance with him, and that he could not be spared until his brother had recovered. ‘Notwithstanding,’ he added, ‘when my brother is whole of his wounds and able to take charge of his men, if it shall please the Lords Justices to call Morrogh and me face to face, that I may know upon what ground and quarrel I am to fight, I will then make it openly known how little able that vain boaster is to stand in my hands, who at the very sound of my name was wont to trot over whole countries.’[113]

Arrival of Perrott—his instructions.

Sir John Perrott was in no great hurry to take up his government, and five months elapsed between the date of his patent and his arrival in Ireland. It was rumoured in Dublin that he would not come at all. In England and in Ireland, his choleric temper involved him in frequent quarrels, and it is probable that delay was caused by some of these. His instructions did not greatly differ from those which Elizabeth was wont to give to her representatives. To increase the revenue without oppressing the subject, to reduce the army[Pg 123] without impairing its efficiency, to punish rebels without driving them to desperation, and to reward loyal people without cost to the Crown—these were the usual orders, and they were easier to give than to carry out. Perrott had already tasted the misery of Irish official life, and his half-brother, Sir Henry Jones, warned him that he would now be envied more than ever, and truly prophesied that he would never see him again.[114]

Perrott and Ormonde.

The settlement of Munster was, of course, the most important part of Perrott’s work, and he was probably chosen because he knew that province well. He was ordered to take Ormonde with him, and to give his opinion due weight. The Earl was directed to come to England as soon as he had given all the information in his power. Tired of the delay, and fearing lest he should be undermined at court, Ormonde slipped over to Wales and met the new Lord Deputy, who handed him a gracious letter from the Queen. This somewhat reassured him, but he complained of hard dealing in being displaced before he had made known in England in how good and quiet order he had left his late charge. At Carew Castle he received orders to accompany his host to Ireland, and complied, though he always hated a sea-passage. He felt that his personal interests were safe in the hands of his old companion in arms, but thought it a little late to consult him about Munster. The journey would only increase his debts, unless, as he hinted to Burghley, the Queen made it worth his while; ‘but over I will, God willing, and back again, seeing you wish it should be so.’[115]

Perrott makes a speech,
which is generally admired.

Perrott made a speech to the great crowd assembled at his installation. He said that the Queen held her subjects of Ireland equal with those of England, and that her care, as well as his own, was to make them equally happy[Pg 124] by means of good government. Among other sayings it was noted as worthy of remark, that he wished to suppress ‘the name of a churl and crushing of a churl,’ and to substitute such terms as husbandman, franklin, or yeoman. ‘This,’ says Secretary Fenton, ‘was so plausible to the assembly, that it was carried from hand to hand throughout the whole realm in less time than might be thought credible if I should express it.’

No respecter of persons.

Next day the Lord Deputy ordered a general hosting, according to the ancient custom, for six weeks, beginning on August 10. Tara was assigned as the place of meeting, and Tyrone, Ormonde, Barrymore, and Mountgarret were among those who signed the order. Perrott devoted a few days to the Council, whose help was necessary to enable him to gather up the reins. Fenton found him ‘affable and pleasing, seeking by good means to recover the hearts of the people that were somewhat estranged, quick and industrious, careful of her Majesty’s profit, sincere, just, and no respecter of persons.’ Indeed, he did not respect persons enough. Wallop, whose office of Vice-Treasurer made him the most important man next to the Viceroy, and who had been virtual chief governor for nearly two years past, was on the point of quarrelling with him at the outset, but forced himself to make allowance for the Deputy’s passionate disposition. With Loftus, who had lately been Wallop’s colleague in the government, and who was still Lord Chancellor, Perrott was at open war in a very short time.[116]

John Norris governor of Munster, and Bingham of Connaught.

John Norris, the most famous of Lord Norris of Rycot’s six good sons, had been appointed Lord President of Munster. Bingham, whom Perrott knighted at his installation, was, at the same time, made Chief Commissioner of Connaught in Maltby’s room, but with inferior emoluments. The Lord Deputy proposed to settle the two provincial governors in their places at once, and to return in time for the hosting at Tara. Norris went straight to Munster, and Bingham accompanied Perrott to the West. All the chief men of Con[Pg 125]naught and Thomond flocked dutifully to the Viceroy, and he decided controversies to their satisfaction. The sheriffs maintained great trains of followers, who became a scourge to the country, and this abuse was sternly repressed. Clanricarde and the rest were ready to make some permanent arrangement with their tenants, ‘so as I,’ said Perrott, ‘would take a time among them to perform it, which, if I have quietness, I will do hereafter.’ He was not fated to have much quietness. Bingham’s first impression of his province was that the Irish should be won by plausible means. It was, he said, their habit to acknowledge their duty to her Majesty on the arrival of a new Lord Deputy, ‘more for fashion than for faithful obedience.’ The fashion and the want of faithful obedience have both continued to our own time. Bingham saw clearly that the Queen’s government would never be really popular—‘the people, for every small trifle, are daily suggesting that they are intolerably oppressed and extorted upon.’ His advice was to keep them down by steady but gentle pressure, ‘so that by having too little the country may not be waste, and by having too much the people may not rebel. Nevertheless, my meaning is rather to better their estate than to make it worse.’ He understood the problem, but he was not much more successful than others in finding the solution.[117]

State of the Church.

John Long, a Cambridge man and a Londoner, was consecrated Primate on the day on which Perrott left Dublin. As a special mark of favour the new Deputy had been allowed to fill the vacant see. Loftus desired the appointment of Thomas Jones, Dean of St. Patrick’s, who ultimately succeeded him in Dublin. Not much, either good or bad, is recorded of Archbishop Long, but he became the chief pastor of a most forlorn flock. ‘There are here,’ says an English visitor to Ireland, ‘so many churches fallen down, so many children dispensed withal to enjoy the livings of the Church, so many laymen—as they are commonly termed—suffered to hold benefices with cure, so many clergymen tolerated to have[Pg 126] the profit of three or four pastoral dignities, who, being themselves unlearned, are not meet men, though they were willing, to teach and instruct others, as whoso beholdeth it must not choose but make it known.’[118]

Munster thoroughly cowed.

Many of the chief men of Munster came to Perrott at Limerick, and the rest signified their intention of attending him at Cork. But news arrived that Scots had landed in Ulster, and the Lord Deputy, who liked fighting better than anything, turned aside from Limerick, crossed Tipperary, and returned by Kilkenny to Dublin. Ormonde and Norris, together with all the late rebels whom the Earl had pardoned, were ordered to make ready for the northern enterprise. Malachi O’Moloney, Papal Bishop of Kilmacduagh, was suspected of having a hand in the Ulster plot; he came to Perrott, renounced the Pope, and took the oath of supremacy; but there can be little doubt that this conversion was insincere. A messenger from Tirlogh O’Neill had certainly been in Munster, but found it impossible to stir up the embers of the Desmond rebellion. Lord Fitzmaurice told him plainly that no one would stir as long as Perrott and Ormonde were in Ireland. The Lord Deputy could therefore turn his back safely on Munster, and he hastened to Dublin to make preparations for repelling what he believed to be a serious invasion.[119]

Escheated lands in Munster.
Difficulties of the survey.

Far more important than the perennial but limited trouble with the Scots, was the question of surveying and resettling the attainted lands in Munster. In June 1584, a commission for the purpose was directed to Vice-Treasurer Wallop, Sir Valentine Browne a man of long experience in English revenue business, Surveyor-General Alford, and auditors Jenyson and Peyton. Their survey began early in September, and they did not return till the end of November, having found a great part of the province waste; and Kerry in particular seemed impossible to re-people except by importation from England. Sir Valentine Browne, who was an elderly man, was active and zealous, but he found the work[Pg 127] very hard. ‘He hath,’ says his colleague the Vice-Treasurer, ‘been sundry times bogged, yet hath gone better through with it than might be imagined so corpulent a man of his years would have been able.’ Rivers and mountains had to be crossed, and provisions could hardly be procured at any point between Limerick and Dingle. One hundred persons fed at the Commissioners’ table, who had to supply it on credit. Wallop was struck by the great fertility of the land, and estimated that the Queen would have a new revenue of 6,000l. within three years. But the difficulty in making an accurate survey was very great. It was supposed that land worth more than 1,000l. a year had escheated in parts of Tipperary, outside of Ormonde’s jurisdiction; but what he had once claimed no one dared to inhabit in spite of him. The Earl’s palatinate was originally a matter of grace and favour, but he tried to extend it to the whole county, and it seemed doubtful whether any subject ought to be so great. The difficulty of arriving at the truth proved even more serious than Wallop at first supposed. Many months passed without anything being decided, and in the meantime Munster was in the utmost misery. Vice-President Norris could not prevent his starving soldiers from running after his brother into Flanders, and the towns, which truly pleaded poverty, could neither be forced nor persuaded to support them.[120]

Scots in Ulster.

Ormonde, who was in a hurry to get to London, deferred his journey that he might accompany Perrott to Ulster. The young Earl of Thomond, who had been educated in England, and who lived to be called ‘the great Earl,’ was glad to take part in the expedition. His great object was to have the county of Clare acknowledged as part of Munster, and freed from the jurisdiction of the Connaught government; and in this he ultimately succeeded. Clanricarde also gave his services, and so did Lord President Norris. Perrott had[Pg 128] 2,000 trained men with him, besides Irish allies, and he thought they would all be necessary. It had been his intention to govern plausibly, and ‘to look through his fingers at Ulster as a fit receptacle for all the savage beasts of the land;’ but the Scots were said to be 4,000, and there were the usual reports about Spanish ships. Norris, who had a cooler head than Perrott, afterwards said that he thought the Scots were bent ‘only on their customary fetching of meat.’ They took 3,000 cows from Tyrconnell, but their numbers were larger than usual. Macleans, as well as MacDonnells, were engaged, and the whole movement had probably more to do with Hebridean politics than with any intention of hurting Queen Elizabeth. The Scots disappeared as quickly as they had come, and when Perrott reached Newry, he found that no foeman worthy of his steel awaited him. He resolved, however, to go on, and to show that Ulster was within his reach.[121]

The Scots clans,
and the Ulster Irish.

Secretary Davison was in Scotland at this time, and he ridiculed Perrott’s fear of Scottish invasion. The obscure politics of Isla and Cantire were not well understood even at Edinburgh, and the Englishman’s judgment may have been warped by the contempt which he certainly felt for Arran. The whole thing, he said, had been greatly exaggerated. But, notwithstanding his opinion and that of Norris, it seems clear that the uneasiness among the western clans had something to say to the fall of Gowrie, and to Arran’s short-lived triumph. The islanders would hardly move for king or regent, unless they saw some advantage to themselves. Some of them at least were paid by cattle taken from the O’Donnells, and all were willing to make interest at court if it could be done cheaply. Perrott’s ships just failed in intercepting the Scots at Lough Foyle, and he could only speak from report. ‘Yet truly,’ he maintained, ‘although they ran away thus cowardly, howsoever Mr. Davison was abused by his intelligence, they were in number little fewer, their training and furniture no worse, and their purpose no better, than I wrote[Pg 129].’ Tirlogh Luineach was not minded to oppose Perrott, and he came to him at Newry without pardon or protection. The old chief’s adhesion proved of little value, for, like other Irish leaders before and since, ‘the better subject he became, the weaker he waxed, and the less regarded of his followers.’ In fact he required help against his own people. But O’Cahan and the crafty Baron of Dungannon also came in, and Perrott proceeded to invest Dunluce Castle.[122]

Slight connection of the western clans with Edinburgh.
Perrott takes Dunluce.

The legal government of Scotland accepted no responsibility for the raids of Macleans and MacDonnells in Ulster. Formerly attempts to retaliate on the Hebrides had not been successful, though Perrott wished to repeat them; but James and Elizabeth were at peace, and the Queen was quite justified in treating the intruders as filibusters. Whether or not they were partly moved by Catholic intriguers in Mary Stuart’s interest really mattered very little, for they could not influence seriously the fate of creeds or kingdoms. But they were a constant source of expense, and the officer who dealt them a crushing blow would deserve well of his sovereign. This honour was, however, denied to Perrott, and reserved for Bingham. The Scot who commanded the garrison of Dunluce declared that he held the castle for the King of Scots’ use, and would defend it to the last. He can, however, have had no valid commission. The position of this place was at once its strength and its weakness. Situated on a precipitous rock rising out of a stormy sea, and connected with the mainland by a narrow ledge, it was almost unapproachable by any enemy. On the other hand it could scarcely be relieved, and it was impossible for the garrison to escape. The fire of three pieces converging on the small castle soon made it untenable, and the forty men whom it contained surrendered at discretion on the second or third day.[123]

Claims of the MacDonnells.

The MacDonnells had always rested their Irish claims upon their relationship to the extinct Bissetts. The extent of the lands once held by that family was very uncertain;[Pg 130] but Sorley Boy never ceased his efforts to get rid of the MacQuillins, who had long held the Route, and upon whom the garrison of Coleraine habitually depended for provisions. Lady Agnes O’Neill, on the other hand, had the Campbell instinct for annexation, and endeavoured to set up her own son Donnell Gorme Macdonnell against his uncle. As the elder brother’s son he had perhaps the better legal right; but Sorley was supported by the clan. Tirlogh Luineach was under his wife’s influence, but had enough to do to hold his own against Shane O’Neill’s sons, and against the Baron of Dungannon. Norris said Tirlogh could do nothing without the Queen’s help; but even he seems to have been persuaded by Lady Agnes that Sorley’s followers resented his tyranny, and were ready to leave him.

After the loss of Dunluce Sorley went to Scotland for help, and Perrott agreed that Donnell Gorme should have a grant of the Bissetts’ lands in consideration of reasonable service. Donnell, on his part, undertook to entertain none but Irish-born Scots, to book the men of his country and be responsible for them, and to serve against his uncle or any other foreign Scot. MacQuillin made a contract for victualling Coleraine, and O’Donnell, whose wife was Donnell Gorme’s sister, made a treaty with Tirlogh Luineach, who agreed to maintain 300 English soldiers and to perform other services. Magennis and the Clandeboye O’Neills also made terms, and Perrott, finding no enemy in the field, returned to Dublin.[124]

Perrott, Ormonde, and Norris lift 50,000 cows.
The forest of Glenconkein.

The war being at an end for want of an enemy, Perrott thought that Scottish raids could best be prevented by clearing the country of cattle. Norris and Ormonde entered Glenconkein, now the south-western portion of Londonderry, but then considered part of Tyrone, and 50,000 cattle were[Pg 131] collected in what was then an almost impenetrable stronghold. Twenty-five years later Sir John Davies described Chichester’s march though the district, ‘where the wild inhabitants wondered as much to see the King’s Deputy as the ghosts in Virgil wondered to see Æneas alive in hell.’ The woods were then said to be among the best in Ireland, and to be as extensive as the New Forest; but they had been wastefully treated, and it was feared that they would soon be exhausted. So completely was the work of destruction carried out that a report written in 1803 declared the county of Londonderry to be the worst wooded in the King’s dominions. In the sixteenth century a considerable population inhabited Glenconkein, who tilled such portions as were fit for tillage, and who looked upon the O’Neills as their superior lords. As had been the case in Kerry, fires marked the course of Ormonde’s march. Norris took much the same view of the Ulster problem as Sidney had done. Permanent garrisons must be maintained, and this would be the cheapest way in the long run. ‘Ireland,’ he said, ‘is not to be brought to obedience but by force; and albeit that some governments have been performed with fewer men, yet have these times served for nothing but to give breath for a further trouble, and then the country ruled by entreaty and not by commandment.’[125]

Perrott proposes to dissolve St. Patrick’s,
and to endow a university.

Among the private instructions given to Perrott by the Privy Council was one directing him to consider ‘how St. Patrick’s in Dublin, and the revenue belonging to the same, might be made to serve, as had been theretofore intended[Pg 132],’ for the erection of a college. This old plan of Archbishop Browne’s had been revived in 1564, and again abandoned in deference to the remonstrances of the threatened foundation; but it was very much to Perrott’s liking, and he adopted it with additions. The dean, Thomas Jones, had just been promoted to the see of Meath, and a principal obstacle had thus been removed. The Courts of Justice were at this time held in the Castle over the powder magazine, but the lawyers had also claims upon the house of Black Friars, on the left bank of the Liffey, where the Four Courts now stand. Ormonde and others had conflicting interests, but the Judges and Bar petitioned that they might be otherwise compensated, and that the law might be permanently lodged by the riverside. This was the plan favoured by the late Lords Justices, but Secretary Fenton, with whom Perrott agreed, cast eyes on the Friars as a convenient landing-place, and wished to turn it into a Government victualling-store. The Lord Deputy’s idea was to combine the two schemes; to let the judges sit in St. Patrick’s church, to convert the residence of the chapter into inns of court, and to found a university with the revenues. The two cathedrals, he urged, were too near together to be both useful, and St. Patrick’s was ‘held in more superstitious veneration’ than the one named after Christ. He thought 2,000l. might suffice for the erection of two colleges, and the surplus, which he estimated at about 700l., could go to eke out the revenue of Christ Church. ‘For the conversion of the whole church of St. Patrick,’ he told Burghley, ‘whatsoever shall or can be said to the contrary, it proceedeth from particular covetous humour without regard to the general good. I could name the sink if I listed whereinto the whole profit falleth under the colour of maintenance of a few bad singers.’ A reformer who begins in this way, though he be a king and not merely a viceroy, very seldom succeeds in effecting reforms.[126]

[Pg 133]

Loftus and Jones are too fond of money.

Adam Loftus was fond of money. He begged so unblushingly for himself and his relations, that the chapter of Christ Church, on granting one of his requests, made him promise, before them all, not to ask for anything more. Even this promise he afterwards tried to evade. He was accused of jobbing away the revenues of St. Patrick’s, and the late dean, who was married to his sister-in-law, earned a very bad name for wasting the substance of his deanery first, and afterwards of his bishopric. One extant deed in particular bears Swift’s indignant endorsement, made in 1714, as ‘a lease of Coolmine, made by that rascal Dean Jones, and the knaves, or fools, his chapter, to one John Allen for eighty-one years, to commence from the expiration of a lease of eighty years made in 1583; so that there was a lease of 161 years of 253 acres in Tassagard parish, within three miles of Dublin, for 2l. per annum... now worth 150l., and, so near Dublin, could not then be worth less than 50l. How the lease was surrendered, I cannot yet tell.’

St. Patrick’s rescued;
though Loftus liked a university in the abstract.
Archbishop Bancroft.

Loftus was accused of being interested in many such leases, and it was said that in defending St. Patrick’s he was really defending his own pocket. He had been dean himself, too, and very possibly he was not anxious for the inquisition which must have taken place had the cathedral been dissolved. On the other hand, the Archbishop could give good reason why Perrott’s plan should not take effect. St. Patrick’s, he said, was the only place in Ireland where a learned man, and especially a learned Englishman, ‘could, without imminent danger, thrust his head.’ There were twenty-six dignitaries, some of them very slightly endowed, and of these fifteen were university graduates. With the exception of one bishop, there were no good preachers in Ireland but those furnished by St. Patrick’s, and amongst them were Dean Jones, Thompson, the treasurer, Conway, the chancellor, and Henry Ussher, the archdeacon, who lived to be Archbishop of Armagh. Of three bishops who could preach, two had been promoted out of St. Patrick’s, and Christ Church neither had done nor could do anything in that way. He was ready to give what help he could towards the establishment of a[Pg 134] university, but a university could not be maintained long if there were no benefices to bestow upon fellows. The prebends did not depend upon temporalities, but were all attached to parishes. Kildare was patron of two, but the others were in the Archbishop’s gift, and they were all opposed to Perrott’s scheme. Loftus himself was ready to resign rather than leave himself ‘a perpetual blot and infamy’ to his successor, for having consented to the destruction of his cathedral. Archdeacon Ussher was sent to England, and Loftus also employed Richard Bancroft, one of the prebendaries, to plead the cause of St. Patrick’s at Court. Bancroft became Archbishop of Canterbury, and gained lasting fame for his services in connection with the authorised version of the Bible, but appears to have resided very little in Dublin, though he held his preferment there for at least thirty years.[127]

The scheme makes Perrott and Loftus enemies.

Whatever may be thought of Loftus’s character, his arguments on this occasion were good, and Burghley felt them to be unanswerable. The thing could not be done, he said, without the consent of the prebendaries, and he asked Perrott how he would like to have his own salary diverted to some other use. Preaching was necessary as well as teaching, and there was no greater abuse in the Church of England than the transfer of livings to abbeys and colleges. Tithes had been instituted for the service of parishes, and he would never do evil that good might come. Perrott answered that the idea had not been originated by him, and that his instructions from the Privy Council, signed by Burghley himself with many others, would have warranted him in proceeding far more roughly than he had done. Where he seems really to[Pg 135] have done wrong was in not showing this order of the Privy Council to Loftus, and in letting him suppose that he was acting of his own motion. Even after Burghley had given his opinion, he was unwilling to give up the scheme, and the Archbishop begged for a letter signed by the Queen herself. This was granted, and the royal missive was read to Perrott in the presence of Waterhouse and Sir Lucas Dillon. Even then the Lord Deputy was not silenced, and the result was bitter hostility between the Queen’s representative and the Chancellor Archbishop, who should have been his chief adviser.[128]

Three hundred executions in Munster.

While Norris was absent in the North, Sir William Stanley governed Munster, and improved the occasion by 300 executions. ‘This,’ he said, ‘doth terrify them so that a man now may travel the whole country, and none to molest him.’ The Lord President on his return declared the country was waste and depopulate. Even malefactors were scarce, and there was no chance of resettling the province but by importing people.

State of Connaught.
Forty-eight executions in Leinster.
Feagh MacHugh a prosecutor of thieves.

In Connaught Bingham complained that he was denied means to maintain the strict government necessary for a people who were not naturally inclined to civility. He hoped nevertheless to increase the revenue in time. From Leinster alone was there anything like a good report. The Master of the Rolls went circuit, and 48 prisoners out of 181 were executed on verdicts found by their own clansmen. Among them were two landowners of the Kavanaghs, who had regularly preyed upon the Barrow navigation, and whose property near Leighlin thus escheated to the Crown. White settled some dispute between chiefs and sheriffs, and visited Feagh MacHugh O’Byrne at Ballinacor, ‘where law never approached.’ Nor was the reconciliation with the notable[Pg 136] partisan altogether hollow. About three months afterwards, fifty head of cattle were lifted in the Pale, and ‘carried with a pipe to the mountain.’ Feagh MacHugh followed, brought back the cows, and sent three of the reivers’ heads to Perrott. The piper and another were sent alive, and speedily hanged, and O’Byrne declared his willingness to send his own son, who had been implicated in the robbery. ‘Your lordship,’ said Perrott, ‘perhaps will marvel to hear that Feagh is such a prosecutor of theft, and will think it a great change that the O’Connors are ready to do good service; and the O’Mores, having put in pledges, do live without doing harm. In Munster only one of the Burkes is abroad in Aherlow woods with a 20 or 30 swords.’[129]

State of Ulster.
Perrott addresses the Parliament of England.
The Queen spares both money and thanks.

Exhaustion or despair had for a time quieted East, South, and West, but the North was still unsubdued, and Perrott felt that only permanent garrisons could secure it. He asked for 600 men, 25 to be levied in each of the 24 handiest counties of England and Wales. In common years the Queen had hitherto spent 30,000l. or 40,000l. a year over and above the Irish revenue, and the average expense was considerably more. If he might have 50,000l. for three years only, he would at the end of them hand over Ireland provided with a trained garrison of 2,000 foot and 400 horse, with seven walled towns of a mile in circumference, with seven bridges, and with seven castles; and the whole country might then be governed infinitely better and more cheaply than it had ever been before. He went so far as to write a letter to the English Parliament, addressing it as ‘most high and noble assembly.’ The malice of the Pope was urged, and also the certainty that foreign princes would again attempt Ireland, and make it a noisome neighbour to England. ‘Choke up the sink at once,’ he exclaimed, ‘make one charge of all, conceiving you do but lend so much upon large interest.’ But even Perrott was not rash enough to address Parliament without Elizabeth’s leave, and the despatch was forwarded through[Pg 137] Walsingham, who consulted Burghley and promptly suppressed it. The Queen, they said, would certainly resent anyone but herself moving Parliament. She had now resolved to help the Dutch, and was the more determined to spare treasure in Ireland. No real danger was to be apprehended from the Scots, about whom she meant to deal roundly with King James. But Perrott was thanked for his services, and some minor requests were granted. A few weeks later, fearing perhaps lest he should be puffed up, she wrote with her own hand as follows:—‘Let us have no more such rash, unadvised journeys without good ground as your last journey in the North. We marvel that you hanged not such saucy an advertiser as he that made you believe so great a company was coming. I know you do nothing but with a good intention for my service, but yet take better heed ere you use us so again.’

He could only reiterate, what seems to have been the fact, that thousands of Scots had really landed, and had run away before he could reach them.[130]


[107] Birch’s Memoirs, i. 27; Ormonde to Burghley, Jan. 26, 1584; Lords Justices to Ormonde, Dec. 31, 1583.

[108] Second examination of Christopher Barnewall, Aug. 12, 1583.

[109] The text is taken from the official correspondence, Lords Justices to Robert Beale, Oct. 8, 1583; to Walsingham, Oct. 20, Dec. 10, March 7 and 8, 1584, April 14, and July 9; Walsingham to the Lords Justices, April 28, 1584. It appears from the Catholic accounts that combustibles were poured into the boots. That of the Jesuit Holing, who died in 1599, may be taken as contemporary; it is printed in Spicilegium Ossoriense, i. 87. ‘Tormenta nova illi parantur; nam ejus pedibus atroces hæreticorum ministri ocreas, butiro, oleo, et sale oppletas, ac—quod longe crudelius fuit—crudo ex corio conditas subjecerunt; postea, vero, catenis simul et compedibus alligatum, aperto in loco, nempe in medio castri—ubi spectaculum mundo, hominibus, et angelis—ubi ab omnibus videri potuit, lento igne apposuerunt, illicque detinuerunt, donec ipso corio consumpto, butiro, oleo, et sale ferventibus, ossa non cute pro carne tecta verum etiam omnino munda fuerint relicta.... Postea in ergastulum et obscurissimum carcerem reducitur, et post sex menses tanquam traditor et reus criminis læsæ majestatis, ab iniquo judice ad mortem condemnatus est. Ad extremum, post inaudita tormenta et carceris molestias, albescente cælo, ne forte tumultus fieret in populo qui ejus exemplo, doctrina, et constantia permotus ad ejus defensionem perveniret, ignorantibus civibus patibulo suspensus martyrium consummavit Dublinii circa annum 1585, mense Maio.’ Other accounts, which agree in essentials, are collected in Brady’s Episcopal Succession, ii. 11, 599. The Valicellian MS. there quoted, says a withen rope was used to protract his agony; but Bacon tells us that this kind of halter was generally used in Ireland, and that a rebel objected to any other.

[110] Ormonde to the Privy Council and to Burghley, Jan. 11, 1584, with enclosures; Wallop to Walsingham, Jan. 21.

[111] John Browne to Hatton and Walsingham, Nov. 19, 1583; Clanricarde to the Privy Council, Jan. 31, 1584; Lords Justices to the Privy Council, March 28, 1584; Wallop to Leicester, Jan. 26, 1581, in Wright’s Elizabeth. The Four Masters bear out Browne’s statement as to John Burke’s popularity; see also a damaged paper calendared under Nov. 1583 (No. 99). The Earl’s pardon passed the Irish Council, June 28, 1584. Lady Mary married O’Rourke. ‘That honest woman,’ Bingham wrote some years later, ‘is deceased in childbirth’ (to Gardiner, June 10, 1589).

[112] Lords Justices to the Privy Council, Sept. 12, 1583. Fenton to Leicester and Warwick, Sept. 13, in Carew; Hooker. This is one of the last, if not the very last trial by combat in the British Islands. Lord Reay’s case, in 1631, is in Howell’s State Trials, vol. iii., with a minute account of the ridiculous ceremonies proper to such a mode of trial; but in that case the fight did not actually take place.

[113] Reasons of Brian MacGilpatrick O’Connor &c. (translated out of Irish), Oct. 15, 1583. The brothers seem to have subsided, or as some would say risen, into farmers.

[114] The memorial of the Privy Council and the Queen’s instructions are both printed in Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica; see also Perrott’s Life, and Ormonde to Burghley, March 13, 1584. Perrott landed at Dalkey, June 9, and was sworn in by Loftus in St. Patrick’s on the 21st.

[115] Ormonde to Burghley, March 13, 1584 (from Carrick); docquet of letter, April 4; Ormonde to Burghley, May 19 (from Abermorles); June 4, (from Carew).

[116] Order for a hosting, June 22, 1584; Wallop to Walsingham, July 9; Fenton to Walsingham, July 10.

[117] Henry Sheffield to Burghley, July 12, 1584; Memorial for Mr. Edward Norris, Aug. 6; Bingham to Burghley, Aug. 7.

[118] William Johnes to Walsingham, July 14, 1584.

[119] Perrott’s Memorial for Mr. Edward Norris, Aug. 6, 1584.

[120] Wallop to Burghley, Sept. 17, 1584; to Walsingham, Oct. 14 and Dec. 4; Sir V. Browne to Burghley and Walsingham, Oct. 18; to Walsingham, Dec. 11; Waterhouse to Walsingham, Nov. 28; Lord Thomond to Burghley, July 14, 1585; Vice-President Norris to Perrott, Dec. 30, 1585.

[121] Fenton to Burghley, Aug. 19, 1584; Perrott to the Privy Council, Aug. 21; Bingham to Walsingham, Aug. 30; John Norris to Burghley, Oct. 16.

[122] Walsingham to Hunsdon, Aug. 24, 1584, in Wright’s Elizabeth; Privy Council to Perrott, Aug. 31; Perrott to Privy Council, Sept. 15.

[123] Perrott to Privy Council, Sept. 15 and 17.

[124] Norris to Burghley, Oct. 16, 1584. The various agreements are in Carew, from Sept. 18 to Oct. 7. Perrott returned to Dublin within a few days of the latter date. On the 20th he sent Walsingham ‘Holy Columkill’s cross, a god of great veneration with Sorley Boy and all Ulster.... When you have made some sacrifice to him, according to the disposition you bear to idolatry, you may, if you please, bestow him upon my good Lady Walsingham or my Lady Sidney, to wear as a jewel of weight and bigness, and not of price and goodness, upon some solemn feast or triumph day at the Court.’

[125] Norris to Burghley, Oct. 16, 1584. See also (in Russell and Prendergast’s Calendar) Sir John Davies to Salisbury, July 1, 1607, and Aug. 5, 1608, and the second conference about the Plantation, Jan. 12, 1610; and J. C. Beresford’s report in the Concise View of the Irish Society, p. ccxxii. In the Irish Archæological Journal, vol. i. p. 477, Ormonde’s contemporary panegyrist, who is an unconscious satirist, says:

Twice he set Glenconkein on fire,
This wealthy and tender-hearted chieftain;
He left no herds around Lough Neagh,
This seer so provident and bountiful.

According to O’Donovan (Four Masters, 1526) Glenconkein originally composed the parishes of Ballinascreen, Desertmartin, and Kilcronaghan.

[126] Sir J. Cusack to Cecil, Feb. 2, 1564; Memorial for Perrott in Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica; Fenton to Burghley, Jan. 31, 1584; Petition to the Judges, Feb. 16; Perrott to Walsingham, Aug. 21; and to Burghley, Oct. 22.

[127] Loftus to Walsingham, Oct. 4, 1584; and March 21, 1585; to Burghley, March 18, 1585; Petition of the prebendaries (with enclosures), Dec. 1584. See also Ware’s Bishops, arts. ‘Jones’ and ‘Loftus,’ and Cotton’s Fasti. Writing to Burghley, Jan 10, 1585, Loftus says the only great abuse was the non-residence of prebendaries, some of them by her Majesty’s express command, and he proposes to remedy this by calling on them to reside, or resign. Bancroft was one of these privileged absentees. For Swift’s remark see Monck Mason’s Hist. of St. Patrick’s, book ii. chap. iii. sec. 8, where another disgraceful lease made by Jones is also mentioned. Loftus was an accomplice in this later case.

[128] Burghley to Perrott, Nov. 6, 1584; Loftus to Burghley, June 7 and 11, 1585. Writing to Burghley on the previous 10th of Jan., Loftus says Fenton had dealt earnestly for the overthrow of St. Patrick’s. ‘After all,’ says Monck Mason, ‘the opposition made by Loftus must be considered as quite reasonable. Had the scheme taken effect there would scarcely have remained a single benefice in the gift of the Archbishop; the Crown presented to all the dignities in the other cathedral, and the Chapter to all the prebends.’—Hist. of St. Patrick’s, book i. ch. 14.

[129] Stanley to Walsingham, Sept. 17, 1584; Norris to Burghley, Nov. 20; Sir N. White to Perrott, Sept. 16; Bingham to Walsingham, Nov. 24 and Dec. 21; and to Burghley, Dec. 24; Perrott to Burghley, Dec. 4.

[130] Perrott to the Privy Council, Oct. 25, 1584; to Walsingham (enclosing that to the High Court of Parliament), Jan. 17, 1585; to the Queen, April 1; Walsingham to Perrott, Feb. 1; the Queen to Perrott, April 14. Perrott’s proposed towns were Athlone, Coleraine, Sligo, Mayo, Dingle, Lifford, and Newry; bridges at Coleraine, Lifford, Ballyshannon, Dundalk, the Munster Black Water, the Feale, and Kells in Clandeboye; castles at Ballyshannon, Meelick, Castle Martin in the Route, at Gallen in King’s County, Kilcommon in Wicklow, and on both the Blackwaters.

[Pg 138]



The Scots invade Ulster in force.

Colin Campbell, 6th Earl of Argyle, died in September, 1584, leaving his eldest son a minor, and this event added to the confusion generally prevalent in the Western Isles. Sorley Boy, as usual, contrived to take advantage of the situation, and persuaded an assembly of chiefs who met in the island of Bute to support his Irish claims. 1,300 Scots, under Angus MacDonnell, landed on Rathlin, a much greater number being ready to follow, and Sir Henry Bagenal hastily moved from Carrickfergus to meet them. The ships which should have co-operated failed to appear, and the Scots attacked him in his camp at Red Bay. In spite of the late negotiations Donnell Gorme was in command, and it is evident that the islanders were not really worsted, though the English officers put a good face on the matter. Sir William Stanley was hastily summoned from Munster to take charge of Coleraine, and Norris was also sent for. Stanley accompanied Bagenal as far as Glenarm, and then marched inland to Ballycastle. The Scots had threatened to burn Ballycastle, but a skirmish with Bagenal proved that they could not do this, and they then withdrew in a northerly direction.[131]

They are driven away.

Stanley arrived at Ballycastle on New Year’s day, with two companies of foot, and joined Captain Carleile, whose troop of horse were already quartered in Bunamargey Abbey. Captain Bowen’s company held the fort of Dunanynie on a hill to the westward. At eleven o’clock that night the[Pg 139] Scots made a sudden attack, set fire to the thatched roof of the church with brands fixed to the points of their spears, and fell upon the infantry encamped outside. Stanley rushed out in his shirt and succeeded in rallying the men, but many were hurt by arrows. He himself received one in the back, another pinned his arm to his side, and a third penetrated his thigh. Some horses were burned in the church, and none could be got out in time to pursue the Scots, whose enterprise failed in the main. But a fleet of galleys from Cantire passed in full view, and a very unusual calm prevented the Queen’s ships from following. Stanley sent for reinforcements, and Perrott laid all blame on the English Government for not sending the 600 men he had asked for. But the real difficulty was to feed the garrisons already established. There was no good harbour. Ballycastle Bay is rocky, and everything had to be landed upon rafts. Some provision vessels were driven back to Holyhead; others in great danger rode out the gales off Carrickfergus and Coleraine, ‘where the sea raiseth such a billow as can hardly be endured by the greatest ships. And scarce once in fourteen days those winter seas will suffer any small vessel to lay the ships aboard to unlade the victuals.’ Money, as usual, was wanting, and the supply service was none of the best. The captains were charged 42s. for corslets, which might be bought of better quality in any London shop for 25s. or less. Useless articles were sent, and whoever else might be to blame, Perrott was quite sure that the Master of the Ordnance in Ireland deserved hanging.[132]

Sorley Boy offers to become a good subject.

Sorley Boy found that the garrisons, notwithstanding all difficulties, were likely to become permanent in Ulster. He was growing old, there had been attempts to dispose of him by foul means, and on the whole he thought it would be better to make terms for himself. He therefore sought an interview with Captain Carleile, and professed willingness to live and die a faithful subject of Queen Elizabeth, on condition of[Pg 140] being acknowledged as owner of at least a large part of the Bissett estate. He only asked, he said, for such terms as Sidney had been willing to grant some ten years before. But Perrott preferred strong measures. At first he wished to go himself, but the Council dissuaded him, and he even allowed Norris to return to his province. The Lord President was very angry at being brought to Dublin merely to suit the Council’s humour, and at having to spend 300l. in bringing up 40 horse and keeping them serviceable. Perrott, he said, had never really meant him to go to Ulster. Such honours as might be had there he wanted for himself, but he liked economising at other folks’ expense. The officers stationed in the North proved sufficient, and hunted Sorley from place to place till he was glad to escape to Scotland. Before April 26, no important Scot was left in Ulster, and Perrott was at leisure to meet his Parliament on that day.[133]

Perrott’s Parliament—the House of Lords.

A list of this Parliament has been preserved, and it is interesting to compare its composition with that held by Sussex in 1560. The spiritual peers summoned were twenty-six in place of twenty, but in both cases it is doubtful how far the more distant bishops attended. The temporal peers had increased from twenty-three to twenty-six, but the earldom of Tyrone and the barony of Dungannon were both centred in the person of Hugh O’Neill, who petitioned the House for the higher title conferred by patent on his grandfather, and whose claim was allowed.[134]

The House of Commons—counties; cities and boroughs.

Twenty-seven counties are mentioned instead of twenty on the former occasion, Connaught being now divided into Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, and Sligo. Cavan, represented by two O’Reillys, and Longford represented by two O’Ferralls, appear for the first time as shires, and so do[Pg 141] Longford and Wicklow. Wexford and Ferns are given as separate counties, and Tipperary, reverting to ancient custom, is divided into the County and the Cross. Ards disappears as a separate county. All the shires named appear to have made returns. Thirty-six cities and boroughs are enumerated instead of twenty-nine, only Carrickfergus and Downpatrick neglecting to make returns. Athy is omitted, and Cashel, Inistioge, Dingle, Callan, Philipstown, Maryborough, Swords, and Downpatrick are added. For some unexplained reason the counties of Cork and Sligo returned three knights each.[135]

Representation of the Irish race.
Irish chiefs in Dublin.

Besides the O’Reillys and O’Ferralls the house of Commons contained but few of the native race. An O’Brien and a Clancy sat for Clare. Sir Hugh Magennis divided Down with Sir Nicholas Bagenal, and Shane MacBrian O’Neill was returned, but did not attend, as Captain Barkley’s colleague for Antrim. Among the burgesses we find a Shee or O’Shea sitting for Kilkenny, a Gwire or Maguire for Trim, a Kearney for Cashel, a Hurley for Kilmallock, a Casey for Mullingar, and a Neill or O’Neill for Carlingford. John Ffrehan, who was returned for Philipstown, was most likely a Celt also. The bulk of the members were of old Anglo-Irish race, with a good sprinkling of more modern settlers, of officials, and of military officers. John and Thomas Norris sat for the counties of Cork and Limerick respectively, Sir Warham St. Leger for Queen’s County, Sir Richard Bingham for Roscommon, and Sir Henry Harrington for Wicklow. Nearly all the chieftains of Ireland, though not actually members of Parliament, obeyed the Lord Deputy’s summons, and he strictly insisted on English costume being worn. ‘Please your lordship,’ said old Tirlogh Luineach, ‘let my priest attend me in Irish apparel, and then they will wonder at him as they do now at me; so shall I pass more quickly and unpointed at.’[136]

Parliamentary procedure.
The Speaker.

Rules were laid down for the conduct of business in the[Pg 142] House of Commons. Members were not to wear arms in the House, they were to speak standing and uncovered, and only once on each reading of a Bill. Freedom of speech was granted, and freedom from arrest for members, their servants, and their goods. On the other hand no member was to disclose ‘the secrets either spoken or done in the House’ to any stranger, under such penalties as the Speaker, with the assent of the House, should think proper to inflict. One rule may seem strange to the present age, in which parliamentary debate has come to be so largely a matter of flouts and gibes and sneers. Every member was enjoined ‘to frame his speech after a quiet and courteous manner, without any taunts or words tending to the reproach of any person in the said House assembled.’ The first struggle was about the election of a Speaker. Nicholas Walshe, Chief Justice of Munster and member for the city of Waterford, was put forward by Perrott. Ormonde had a very good opinion of him, and Perrott, when President of Munster, must have learned his value. The opposition, though strong, was fruitless, and Walshe was duly chosen Speaker.[137]

The Parliament is hard to manage.
A prorogation.

Perrott had not been easily induced to abandon his scheme for the dissolution of St. Patrick’s. He continued to attack Loftus, but nevertheless gave him the chief control over the drafting of Bills; and the Chancellor was accused of purposely drawing them so as to arouse opposition. By Poyning’s law, and the Acts explaining it, these Bills had to be sent to England and returned after passing the Privy Council. If disapproved in this form, they could not be amended without sending them to England again. Travelling was tedious, Parliaments were short, and thus there was a risk that all legislation would be stopped. One Bill was for extending to Ireland all the English laws against Popish recusants, and this was certain to arouse the fiercest animosity. Another contained provisions derogatory to the privileges of the peerage. Desmond’s Bill of Attainder as amended contained eight names instead of twenty times that[Pg 143] number, and made so many reservations that it would have been almost useless to the Crown. Nearly all the other Bills went too far or not far enough, but the difficulty might have been avoided by suspending Poyning’s Act, as had been done in 1537 and 1569. The landowners and lawyers of the Pale said that they feared to make the Viceroy despotic, but Perrott said that they dreaded all legislation favourable to the Crown. The bill only passed the Lords by one vote, of which the validity was disputed, Lord Lixnaw having given his proxy first to Lord Slane, who opposed, and afterwards to Lord Dunboyne, who supported the bill. The Chancellor took it privately from Dunboyne, and counted the absent peer among the ‘contents.’ Upon this or some other pretext the Commons threw the Bill out on the third reading by a majority of thirty-five. Perrott looked upon this check as a disgrace to himself and a hindrance to the Queen, and prorogued Parliament for a few days. This enabled him to bring the Bill in again, but it was lost by a reduced majority, although Ormonde’s friends, who had at first opposed, now voted with the ‘ayes.’ Partly by his rudeness, and partly by his determination to prevent jobs, the Lord Deputy had made many enemies, and six Englishmen turned the scale against the Bill. ‘And thus,’ said Perrott, ‘they have not only overthrown the repeal of Poyning’s Act, that should have set them at liberty to treat of that and all other things necessary for this State, but also dashed most of the statutes that were penned in Ireland and sent back confirmed from England, as, namely, that for the safety of the Queen.’[138]


The chief opposition to Perrott’s measures came from the Pale, and among the leaders were Sidney’s old antagonists Richard Netterville and Henry Burnell. ‘These popular fellows,’ said Perrott, ‘or good countrymen, as they would be gloriously termed, have been ever of this humour against all governors, and some of them, namely Netterville and Burnell, have been in the Tower of London for causes of far less moment than this is.’

[Pg 144]

A fair system of taxation rejected.

One great cause of opposition was a Bill proposing to equalise ploughlands, and to impose a tax of 13s. 4d. in lieu of cess on each ploughland throughout the whole country. The Pale had hitherto paid when Irish countries were not charged, and the native chiefs were now willing to come to an arrangement. But even in the counties which had always contributed there were many permanent exemptions, and still more fraudulent evasions. A new survey had thus many terrors, and, as is so often the case, threatened interests were more powerful than arguments founded on considerations of public policy. The Pale offered a lump sum of 1,200l. in lieu of all cess; but this was far less than had always been paid, and Perrott indignantly refused it. The chance of making the whole country voluntarily contribute to the expenses of government was thus unhappily lost. The Irish chiefs, who had come prepared to agree with the Lord Deputy, now left Dublin in far worse humour than they had reached it, and the plan of making them English subjects was indefinitely postponed. Religion was at the bottom of the whole difficulty, and one of the Pale patriots said, in open Parliament, that ‘things did prosper in Henry V.’s and former kings’ times when the mass was up.’ Perrott was willing and anxious to punish his parliamentary opponents, but required orders from home first, ‘because these kind of people by the mild dealing of England have ever found more favour there than hath been for the good of this State.’[139]

Small results of the session.
A stranger in the gallery.

Parliament was a second time prorogued on May 25, and it did not meet again for eleven months. The only legislative results of the first session—or, more properly speaking, of the first two sessions—were an Act for the attainder of Baltinglas and his brothers, and an Act for the restoration in blood of Laurence, the son of the old Geraldine rebel James Delahide. A German nobleman who was in Dublin[Pg 145] during the session is said to have been much struck by Perrott’s stately appearance at the opening of Parliament. He had, he said, travelled through Germany, Italy, France, and England, but had never seen anyone so majestic, and he asked for his portrait to carry home with him. And this presence, coupled with substantial fair-dealing, no doubt made Perrott popular with the masses and with the Irish chiefs. With officials and members of council it was different, for they felt the weight of his hand. Had he been as courteous as he was anxious for the Queen’s service, his fate might have been very different. A reformer can never hope to be really liked by those who desire the maintenance of abuses; but a soft hand is no less necessary than a stout heart.[140]

Eloquence of Sir John Norris.

The oratorical honours of the session were carried off by John Norris. Fenton said he would deserve the Queen’s special thanks had he done her no other service, and Loftus, himself a great preacher, pronounced him to be the best speaker in the House, both for force of reasoning and eloquence of delivery. But Norris himself had no wish ‘to be drowned in this forgetful corner,’ as he called Ireland, almost in the very words of a still more remarkable man nearly a century and a half later. He longed to be again in the Netherlands, and thought that he could save Antwerp with 20,000l. Once lost, it would never be regained. Had his advice been taken, Ghent and Bruges might have been retained; but the Walloon provinces were now past hope, and the Dutch would have to yield unless they received foreign help. His prayer was heard, and a commission to his brother Thomas to execute the office of Lord President in his absence was signed on the day before the Irish Parliament met. Immediately after the prorogation he left Dublin, and was in Flanders a few weeks later.[141]

[Pg 146]

Ulster again invaded by Scots,
who surprise Dunluce,
to Perrott’s great disgust.

Norris was gone, and Stanley had returned to Munster, when the Scots again invaded Antrim in some force. 170 English soldiers encountered 1,200 Scots and Irish, near Carrickfergus, and Perrott again moved to Ulster. He approved and confirmed a deed by which Tirlogh Luineach handed over the southern half of Tyrone to the newly-acknowledged Earl, reserving the northern half to himself, with such tribute as he might be able to collect from Maguire and O’Cahan. Wallop and Loftus, who were left in charge of the Pale, saw it was quite impossible for the Lord Deputy to keep the Scots at bay without garrisons and fortresses more permanent than the Queen was inclined to pay for. Perrott was really of the same opinion, but he persevered in the hopeless task. There were, he said, more than 2,000 Scots in Ulster, combined to set up Shane O’Neill’s sons. Journeys to the North had always been allowed, and he could not see why he, of all Deputies, was to be kept in enforced idleness. He did, however, return to Dublin after a short absence, for the orders to save money were peremptory. The army was almost literally naked, and many soldiers for sheer want took service with the Irish. The natural result was not long delayed. Perrott had returned to Dublin early in September, and on the 1st of November, Dunluce—about the capture of which so much fuss had been made—was once more in the hands of the Scots. Peter Cary, the constable, a man of English blood and Ulster birth, had but fourteen soldiers, of which several were Irish; and, what was perhaps more important, he had a Scotch mistress. Ropes, which are said to have been made of withes, were let down at night by two of the Irish warders, and fifty Scots climbed over the battlements. Cary, whose orders not to keep Irishmen in the fort were strict, refused quarter, and he and his English soldiers were killed after a desperate resistance. ‘I do not,’ said Perrott, ‘weigh the loss, but can hardly endure the discredit. As things are purposed now any man is fitter for the place than I am.’ James VI. had promised Perrott to punish his subjects as rebels should they again invade Ireland; but he had not the power, nor perhaps the will, to keep his promise. Queen[Pg 147] Elizabeth’s thoughts were now concentrated on foreign politics, and economy was her one object in Ireland. It was even proposed to disband companies lately raised, and necessarily composed of natives, since Englishmen could not be found to serve without pay or clothes. ‘Thus,’ said Wallop, ‘have we trained and furnished Irishmen to serve the enemy’s turn.’ Walsingham could only say that Perrott might have lived in better season under Henry VIII., when princes were resolute in honourable attempts. ‘Our age has been given to other manner of proceedings, whereto the Lord Deputy must be content to conform himself as other men do.’[142]

Composition in Connaught.

Unsuccessful with his parliament, with his council, and with the great men of the Pale, Perrott found the chieftains of Connaught still amenable to reason. Ten years before, Sidney had found them willing to hold their lands of the Queen and to pay rent, but the completion of the contract was Perrott’s work. The commissioners named were Bingham as governor, the Earls of Thomond and Clanricarde, the Baron of Athenry, Sir Tirlogh O’Brien, Sir Richard Burke of Mayo, O’Connor Sligo, O’Rourke, O’Flaherty, and others, and they proposed that the Queen should have a quit rent of 10s. a quarter out of all arable and pasture land in Connaught and Clare. There were to be no other exactions except certain days’ labour for fortifications or other public buildings. Contributions of horse and foot on warlike occasions were to be matter of special agreement. Anxious for peace among themselves and convinced that they could not make head against the State, the chiefs agreed to these terms, in the hopes of obtaining a firm and just government. To make things pleasant, some special privileges were granted to a few important people, and it was calculated that a revenue of rather less than 4,000l. a year would be secured to the Crown. Less than one-third of the whole soil was really included in this settlement; waste lands, water, and fraudulent conceal[Pg 148]ments will account for the rest. The plan of the composition was good, but the result did not fulfil Perrott’s expectation. In so extensive an area many were dissatisfied with their lot, and the Government was neither strong enough nor steady enough to enforce order among a rude people.[143]

Perrott’s personal troubles.
His traducers.

Perrott claimed to be a careful husband of the Queen’s resources, and rather ostentatiously professed his contempt for the interested criticism of others. But Elizabeth’s parsimony increased with her years, and she was only too ready to listen to those who told her she was being robbed. She directed a stringent inquiry into the revenue, suggesting that arrears had been allowed to accumulate, that improper concessions had been granted, that crown leases had been given without due inquiry, that personal allowances had been made without exacting service in return, and in short that everyone’s interests had been regarded but her own. ‘It is not meant,’ she said, ‘that the possession of lands and chattels lately escheated by rebellion should be in the power and authority of the Lord Deputy, but to be stayed at her Majesty’s will and pleasure.’ This and other similar hints cut Perrott to the quick. No doubt his despotic temper sometimes induced him to overstep the bounds of strict law, and his enemies were always on the watch. He was accused of making money unfairly out of household and table allowances. It was said that his accounts showed annual liveries, whereas they were in reality biennial; he allowed no fires even in bitter February weather, and there was no good cheer in the Castle. ‘I had little thought,’ he indignantly exclaimed, ‘that any part of her Highness’s honour had depended on my supper. I am sorry that men’s eyes are so[Pg 149] narrowly bent on my diet, and I doubt will watch my uprising and downlying too.’ He had always provided supper for those who could enjoy it; as for himself the doctors had forbidden him that insidious meal for nearly a quarter of a century. And yet, he said, he would rather die of indigestion than incur the imputation of niggardly conduct. ‘I pray you,’ he wrote to Burghley, ‘help to rid me hence, that I may avoid all these spiteful occasions of grief and unkindness.’[144]

Rumours of invasion.
Miserable state of the army.

Preparations for the settlement of Munster, and speculations as to the coming of the Armada, occupied the early days of 1586. A rover, who put into Cork Harbour, declared that 20,000 Spaniards were intended for Ireland. Redmond O’Gallagher, whom the Pope had provided to the See of Derry, and whom the Queen had not sought to displace, was once more on his travels in search of aid from France or Spain, and Munster lay open to attack. There was no garrison even at Limerick, which was called the strongest place in the province, and the guns had fallen to the ground from their rotten carriages. The muskets were useless from rust, and the feathers had damped off the arrows. Cork, Waterford, and the rest were in no better case. Wallop had to pledge his plate for 100l., and the captains were in debt through vain attempts to clothe their shivering men, who ran off to the Irish chiefs to look for brogues and frieze mantles. The Vice-Treasurer anxiously begged for 20,000l.; if the Spaniards landed it would cost 300,000l. to get rid of them. But Elizabeth’s thoughts were all given to the Continent, and better than any man in Ireland she probably understood the real impotence of Spain.[145]

Parliament—the Desmond attainder.
Parliament dissolved.

In the second session of Perrott’s Parliament the chief business was the Desmond attainder, and there was so much[Pg 150] opposition that some of the judges were sent for to assure the House of Commons that Ormonde’s rights should be saved. In the bill which then passed, Desmond and his brothers John and James, James Fitzmaurice, and thirty-four others were named, their lands being vested in the Crown without inquisition, but without prejudice to innocent parties. Eighty-two others were attainted by name in another Act, which contained the same reservations. Some of the late Opposition had apologised, but an Opposition still remained, and Perrott was not allowed to punish it as he wished. The Commons rejected a bill vesting the lands of persons thereafter attainted in the Crown without the usual formalities, and they finally refused to grant a subsidy of 13s. 4d. upon every ploughland. The session lasted less than three weeks. At the dissolution Speaker Walshe addressed the Lord Deputy at length, praising the constitution, lamenting that the Queen was an absentee, and hinting pretty plainly that the subject was overburdened. ‘Lamps,’ he said, ‘cannot give light that are not maintained with oil.’ Perrott’s answer, if he gave one, is not recorded; but Elizabeth was so little pleased with her Parliament of Ireland, that she summoned no other during the remaining sixteen years of her reign.[146]

The MacDonnells in Antrim.
Sorley Boy becomes a subject,
and a great landowner.

Perrott’s last invasion of Ulster, and his correspondence with the King of Scotland, had done little good. Dunluce was now in Sorley Boy’s hands, and the English Government inclined to make friends with him. Sorley hesitated to go to Dublin, and in the meantime his eldest son Alaster was killed in Tyrconnell. After being wounded in a skirmish he swam across a river, but we found him, says Captain Price, ‘by great chance in a deep grave, strewn over with rushes, and on every side six old calliox weeping... but a quick corse therein, and in memory of Dunluce we cried quittance with him, and sent his head to be set on Dublin Castle.’ Perrott was inclined to make the most of success, and to[Pg 151] break off the negotiations, ‘as though,’ said Fenton, ‘by this blow hydra’s head were seared up.’ But his loss made the old chief readier to treat, and he came to Dublin on protection, after writing a humble letter. It is said that an official brutally showed him his son’s head over the Castle gate, and that he proudly answered, as if to justify Fenton’s simile, ‘my son has many heads.’ He made a formal submission, prostrating himself before a portrait of Queen Elizabeth, admitting that he had no legal right in Ulster, and particularly condemning his own folly ‘in leaving such men in the Castle of Dunluce, within this her Highness’s land, as should say they kept it in the name, or to the use of, the King of Scots, a Prince that honoureth her Majesty and embraceth her favour.’ The land he held had been taken by force, and he was willing to keep it on such terms as the Queen might be pleased to grant. Upon this basis a treaty was concluded, by which Sorley had a grant by knight service of all the land between the Bann and the Bush, and of much to the eastward, and he was made Constable of Dunluce, while resigning his claim to property in it. He became a denizen, and having got all that he had fought for, gave Perrott no further trouble. A great part of the Glynns, comprising the coast between Larne and Ballycastle, had already been granted to his nephew Angus. Thus were the MacDonnells confirmed in the possessions for which they had struggled so long.[147]

Bingham in Connaught.
The Mayo Burkes rebel,
and are harried by Bingham,
who strikes terror into all.

Bingham soon tried how real was the submission of western Connaught, for he held sessions at Galway, and hanged seventy persons, of whom some were gentlemen. This he modestly called the cutting off of a few bad members. He then, after a three weeks’ siege, took Clonloan Castle from the O’Briens and killed all the garrison. He went next against the Hag’s Castle in Lough Mask, which was held by some[Pg 152] Burkes, who had risen rather than attend Galway sessions. An attack in boats failed, but the garrison slipped away by water, and resolved, according to the annalists, to defend no more castles against the Queen of England. Resistance was vain, and most of the chiefs came in to Bingham, among them being Richard Burke, a noted partisan, who was called the Hedge or Pale of Ireland. It was proved that he had been intriguing with the Scots, and he was promptly hanged, by the sentence of a court-martial. Peremptory orders then came from Perrott to give the rest protection, and the Burkes immediately broke out again, saying that they would have a MacWilliam, though they fetched him out of Spain. They would have no sheriff, and attend no sessions, nor serve a heretic hag, but would transfer their allegiance to the Pope or the Catholic king. They were near 800 strong, and Bingham would not attack them without Perrott’s orders, who gave them as soon as he saw clearly that conciliation had done no good. After three months’ delay, Bingham again took the field, with Clanricarde and others, and had a parley with the rebels at Ballinrobe. They stood out for their old terms, whereupon Bingham proclaimed them all traitors and hanged the hostages in his hands. Three thousand cows were driven from the mountains between Mayo and Galway; but the annalists assert that the guilty escaped, and that only the innocent were plundered. The soldiers, they say, killed old men, women, and boys, ‘and hanged Theobald O’Toole, supporter of the destitute and keeper of a house of hospitality.’ The proclamation had, however, the effect of making Bingham’s enemies distrust each other. The Joyces, a tribe of Welsh origin, very long settled in Galway, the Clandonnells, or gallowglasses of Scottish descent, and the various septs of Burkes, kept separate; while the O’Flaherties, who had lately been in rebellion, were now glad to attack their neighbours at the Governor’s instance. Sir Murrogh of the Battleaxes, chief of the O’Flaherties, plundered the Joyces, while his kinsman Roger, with a flotilla, prevented them from escaping into the islands. The corn was not yet ripe, but Bingham meant to burn it when the time came, and thought that his[Pg 153] subjects would then be in no case to make dangerous alliance with the Scots. The bad spirit showed signs of spreading, and a messenger from Munster reported that Leicester was dead in Holland, and that his army was destroyed. Two great Spanish armies, he gave out, had landed in England, there was a Spanish fleet at Baltimore, James of Scotland was preparing for war, and, to crown all, Queen Elizabeth was at the point of death. Bingham managed to catch the tale-bearer, and hanged him as a spy, and finding that they had little chance against this pitiless soldier, most of the rebels came in; ‘so pined away for want of food, and so ghasted with fear within seven or eight weeks, by reason they were so roundly followed without any interim of rest, that they looked rather like to ghosts than men.’ Except a small body of the Burkes, who remained in arms at Castlebar, no one was left to greet the Scots when they at last appeared.[148]

The Scots invade Connaught,
and are pursued by Bingham.

Two years before, Donnell Gorme, a brother to Angus, had been granted nearly two-thirds of the Glynns which were then in his possession. But he afterwards rebelled, and was ready for anything. Messengers from the Mayo Burkes earnestly sought his help, and being joined by his brother, Alaster, he brought 2,000 Redshanks from the isles. The brothers landed in Innishowen, and all the loose Scots in Ireland gathered round them, so that their force was uncertain. Only a week before their appearance on the Erne, Wallop said they were less than 600 bare-tailed beggars, and not at all dangerous. They plundered O’Dogherty and[Pg 154] Maguire, and waited at Belleek for news of their Connaught friends. Bingham, who was at Balla in Mayo, heard that they were likely to enter his province by the north shore of Lough Ree, hurried to Roscommon, found that he had been misled, and then made his way to Sligo by forced marches. The Scots were encamped on the Erne, and he sent to ask what they wanted. The MacDonnells said their friends had drawn them over by offering the spoil of Connaught: that like all other soldiers in the world they had no shift but to serve the highest bidder, and that they would take what they could until hindered by the strong hand.[149]

Bingham watches the Scots.
Who draw towards Mayo.

Bingham had with him but 60 regular horse and 400 foot. Of these 300 were half-trained Irishmen, and upon his 200 kerne and 200 Irish horse he could place little reliance. He stood on the defensive till help came; and after a fortnight’s delay the Scots advanced stealthily towards the Curlew hills, and passed Bingham’s scouts on a very dark and stormy night. 50 Irish horse watched the bridge at Collooney, but they made no fight, and 400 Scots passed before the infantry came up. The rest of the intruders crossed higher up by a ford Bingham had never heard of, but they lost some 50 men in subsequent skirmishes. Bingham then discharged his Irish auxiliaries. ‘They were,’ he said, ‘to me a great trouble, and very chargeable, and during their being in my company, I could keep no enterprise secret, and yet but mean men when they come to action, for at the charge they forsook me.’ Their hearts were not in the work, and no real help was given but by Clanricarde and two or three of his men. While waiting for reinforcements, Bingham crossed the Slieve Gamp mountains near the sea, with a view to saving the great herds of cattle in Tireragh. Mayo was the real destination of the Scots, but Bingham’s information was uncertain, and he moved towards Lough Gara, where he was joined by 40 horse and 250 foot which Perrott had ordered up from Munster. He had now nearly 600 men, of which less than 100 were[Pg 155] horse, and this was his greatest strength. It had been supposed that the Scots would seize Roscommon; but they moved ‘the clean contrary way’ towards Ballina, giving out, and perhaps believing, that Bingham’s forces had abandoned him, and that the country was theirs. Sir Richard’s spies brought the news at noon, ‘before our men could kill their beef and prepare it to refresh themselves with’; and he followed the Scots at once through the woods to Bannada Abbey. A priest and two gentlemen of the O’Haras guided him by Aclare to Ardnarea on the Moy, where the strangers lay waiting for the Burkes to join them.

Bingham follows the Scots by night,
and annihilates them at the Moy.

Bingham left Castlemore-Costello in the afternoon of Wednesday, halted at Bannada Abbey two hours after nightfall, and marched by moonlight to Aclare. With the morning light, he says, ‘we forsook the highway, and took through the mountains with horsemen, footmen, and carriage, carrying all our own forces as in a “heyrse” together, keeping the bottoms and lowest passages as near as we might by circumferent ways, and with as great silence as was possible.’ Reaching firm ground about nine o’clock, Bingham learned that the enemy were only two miles away, and pushed on at once with his cavalry, the advanced guard actually riding into their camp unchallenged. The Scots got into order as quickly as they could, Bingham skirmishing until his foot came up. He had the advantage of ground, and the Redshanks broke at the first charge. ‘I was never,’ said Captain Woodhouse, ‘so weary with killing of men, for I protest to God, for as fast as I could I did but hough and paunch them.’ In an hour all was over. About eighty swam naked over the Moy, and were mostly killed by the natives whom they had come to fight for; the rest became entangled in each other, and, to use Bingham’s own expression, were carried out to sea in ‘plumpes.’ Both their leaders were slain. A thousand corpses lay on the field, and 500 more were found next day about the banks and shallows. ‘The number of their fighting-men slain and drowned that day we estimated and numbered to be 1,400 or 1,500, besides boys, women, churls, and children, which could not be so few as as many more and[Pg 156] upwards.’ If it be true that Bingham only lost two or three men, and those chiefly through their own folly, the surprise must have been more complete than we should infer from the English accounts. ‘They were,’ says the Four Masters, ‘first aroused from their profound slumbers by the shrieks of their military attendants, whom the Governor’s people were slaughtering throughout the town. The Scots then arose expertly, and placed themselves, as well as they were able, in order and battle array.’[150]

Perrott insists on going to Connaught.
Bad feeling between Perrott and Bingham.

Bingham had asked for only 250 men from Perrott, and had particularly requested that the Deputy should not enter Connaught. He complained that the aid was tardily sent, and that much of the effect of his victory would be taken away if he were not left to follow it up in his own way. The Council also opposed Perrott’s expedition, but notwithstanding this and the rebuke he had received from the Queen for visiting Ulster under similar circumstances, he set out upon the journey, but had only reached Mullingar at the date of Bingham’s victory. He went on to Galway, though his retinue were a heavy burden to the province. He took cattle for their use at a forced price, and thus broke the composition which had been made in his name, but chiefly through Bingham’s exertions. Perrott afterwards declared that the journey only cost the Queen 100l., that Bingham had requested his presence, and that the Council had given him leave to go. But it is impossible to reconcile these statements with those made in a hostile sense. At first the Council altogether refused their consent, and then, when some of Perrott’s opponents were absent and more of his supporters present, they agreed, by no means unanimously, that he should go to the borders of Connaught only. After the overthrow of the Scots there was no longer any valid reason for going forward. Bingham complained that at[Pg 157] Galway the Lord Deputy did nothing but hunt up evidence against him, so as, if possible, to make it appear that his misgovernment had made the Burkes rebel. The chief men of the clans were, however, induced to sign a paper in which they declared their confidence in the Governor. They said their revolt was caused by what they could not deny to be commendable reforms. It had been reported that ‘this new governor would make their churls their masters, and that the gentlemen were like to become beggars for want of their cuttings and spendings, and such other exactions as they compelled the tenants to yield unto them at their own devotion.’ This and the destruction of their old tribal organisation, by abolishing the name and power of MacWilliam, were the real causes of the outbreak; and surely we need look no farther. It is impossible to say whether Perrott was jealous, or whether he really disapproved of Bingham’s proceedings; but he indulged in strong and even coarse language, and that could not fail to excite prejudice against him.[151]

Perrott quarrels with his Council

Like many of his predecessors, Perrott chafed under the restraint of the Council. The English or official party at the Board were inclined to lessen his power by frequent references to the Home Government. On this side were Lord Chancellor Loftus, Sir Nicholas Bagenal the Knight-Marshal, Vice-Treasurer Wallop, and Secretary Fenton. The Great Seal was in the Chancellor’s hands, the signet in the Secretary’s, and Perrott had thus the mortification of seeing his opponents concerned in every act of importance. Most lawyers of Irish birth took the other side, and of these the most active were Sir Nicholas White and Chief Baron Sir Lucas Dillon. Loftus and his friends generally leaned on Walsingham, while their opponents had more hope from Burghley. Fenton was in England during the latter half of 1585 and until March in the next year, and Perrott, who[Pg 158] knew what the Secretary’s influence would be, expected his recall, and was ready to welcome it.

and thereby displeases the Queen.

The Queen did not blame her representative directly; but she sent home despatches by Fenton which he greatly disliked, though they were very moderate and considerate in terms. The Council was to be more often consulted, and the Secretary was directed to read all instructions from headquarters openly at the Board at least once a quarter. This was no new thing, but a rebuke may have been implied in giving Fenton the initiative. In secret matters the Deputy was to confer with the English councillors, and offices in his gift were to be bestowed only on fit persons, which seems to suggest that he had made some improper appointments. Perrott considered these orders derogatory to his dignity, and he begged to be relieved.[152]

Perrott quarrels with Archbishop Loftus,
and sends the Chief Secretary to gaol.
Challenges the Governor of Connaught,
and assaults the marshal.

The argument between the Lord Deputy and the Lord Chancellor about St. Patrick’s was so loud that it reached the Queen’s ear, and she wrote to them both, enjoining a reconciliation. Burghley added some fatherly advice to Loftus, and an open breach was avoided. But the Archbishop lost no opportunity of doing the Deputy an ill turn. “Contempt of God’s religion,” “immoderate government,” “abhorred and loathed of the best sort of this people,” were among the expressions he allowed himself to use in writing to Walsingham. With Burghley he was more guarded, acknowledging that the private mislike between him and the Deputy made open complaint unbecoming, yet complaining very strongly at the same time. There was not much outward scandal, for the Chancellor’s mitre protected him in some measure, and a dignified ecclesiastic had probably enough self-restraint to avoid irritating language. Others were less fortunate. Secretary Fenton owed 20l. to the Deputy, and 50l. to one of his retainers; and for this small debt—the liability to pay which he had not denied—Perrott[Pg 159] had this high official hurried off through the streets on market-day, and ignominiously cast into the common gaol. For this extraordinary proceeding the Queen took her Deputy severely to task, and ordered Fenton’s immediate enlargement. ‘Considering,’ she said, ‘how inconvenient it is at all times, but especially in so doubtful and perilous a season as this, to have you and the rest of our Council there divided, as we hear you are by factions and partialities, to our just offence and mislike, the slander of your government and prejudice of our service, whereof we doubt not but you will, for your own part, have that regard that in honour and duty appertaineth.’ Bingham’s duties in Connaught kept him from the Council-board, but Perrott gave him as little countenance as possible. There was a standing dispute about the house at Athlone, which was in the Deputy’s hands, and which Bingham naturally wanted for an official residence. Perrott’s journey into the province against the Governor’s advice made things worse, and Bingham complained of hard usage, ‘especially in bad speeches and uncourteous terms, such as for modesty’s sake I omit to write here.’ Theobald Dillon, collector of composition rents in Connaught, was supported by the Lord Deputy against Bingham; but the Council heard Dillon’s charges, and declared them unfounded. The evening before the Council gave their decision, and doubtless after the result of the hearing was known, Stephen Seagrave, constable of the Castle, came to Bingham, on Perrott’s part, with a great white truncheon in his hand, and informed him that his lordship was ready for the combat. Bingham said he never heard of any such combat before, and the Lord Deputy admitted having sent Seagrave. The provocation alleged was mere hearsay: that Lord Delvin had told Perrott that Sir Richard had told Lieutenant Jacques that he would fight the Deputy if he were out of office; and Seagrave was told to tell Bingham that the duel might take place at once. Still worse was the treatment of Sir Nicholas Bagenal, who was near eighty years old, and who had served the State well for half a century. A dispute arising in the Council Chamber, Perrott actually struck the old man.[Pg 160] According to Bagenal, he knocked him down; others thought the blow was nothing, but that the aged marshal fell in the confusion. Bagenal held up his stick, but not till the Deputy had first laid hands on him. They were separated; and then this edifying dialogue took place: ‘You do lie,’ said the Deputy, ‘if you think I have dealt evil in anything.’

‘You lie,’ said the Marshal, and to mend it said, ‘if you were not Deputy, I would say you lie, for I care not for Sir John Perrott.’

‘If I were but Sir John Perrott,’ said the Deputy, ‘I would teach him that came from a tailor’s stall, to use me thus.’

‘It makes no matter,’ said the Marshal.

‘Well,’ said the Deputy, ‘because you doat, I will bear with you; otherwise I would commit you to the prison.’

‘If you did,’ said he, ‘I would come out, whether you would or not.’

‘Very well, Mr. Marshal,’ said the Deputy, ‘get you hence, for it is not reason to talk with you. A man would think you are drunk.’

‘Nay, you are drunk,’ said the Marshal to the Deputy.

After this it is hardly worth while to repeat Wallop’s complaints, that his labours in Munster were slighted, and that the Lord Deputy sometimes indulged in violent language against him, and against Chief Justice Gardiner.[153]

Perrott’s troubles.

Perrott’s health may partly excuse him, for he suffered much. ‘By God, Mr. Carew,’ he wrote, ‘I daily grow weaker and weaker of body through the great pain I have of the stone, growing more and more upon me in this slimy[Pg 161] country. In Connaught, if I travelled one day, through the grating of the stone in my kidneys I was fain to rest another; and in the end the Irish ague took me, that I was seven days like to die in Galway, and am not yet thoroughly recovered thereof, nor shall not (I believe) pass this next year, except her Majesty, of her great grace, give me licence to go to the Spa the next spring; a suit that I made to her Highness nine years agone. It were better her Majesty preserved me to serve her in some other place, than I to be wilfully cast away here.’ Ireland was a prison where he could do no good to himself nor to any other man. ‘Help your poor friend out of this hell,’ was his prayer to Leicester. If he could but see Elizabeth all would be well, for she had promised not to listen to detractors who were his enemies because he served one God and one Queen; but now her Deputy was brought into greater contempt than ever Sir John Perrott was. One can sympathise with the man; but no good work could be expected from a governor who had personally quarrelled with all the more important members of the Council, by whose advice he was bound to act.[154]

An Irish regiment sent to Holland,
under Sir William Stanley,
who deserts to the Spaniards.
Stanley wished to invade Ireland,
but never effected anything.

Ireland being comparatively peaceful, it occurred to Elizabeth, or to some of her advisers, that an Irish force might be raised for service in the Netherlands. Perhaps it was also thought that the more loose swordsmen were sent out of the country the more likely it was to remain quiet. The officer chosen was Sir William Stanley, who had done good service in many parts of Ireland, and who had been rewarded by a reversionary grant of the Mastership of the Ordnance. The Catholic party was at this time in the ascendency at Deventer, and had given trouble by introducing provisions into the beleaguered city of Zutphen. Leicester sent Sir William Pelham to secure Deventer, and Stanley, whom he must have known well in Ireland, was ordered to support him. Pelham secured the municipality in Protestant hands, and Leicester then handed over the[Pg 162] place to Stanley, who was known to favour the old religion, and suspected of being concerned in plots, and who had been associating with Spaniards for months. Leicester’s chief object in making this appointment seems to have been to annoy Sir John Norris, from whose control, with almost incredible folly, he specially excepted Stanley and his Irishmen. The fort of Zutphen, which had been lately taken, was entrusted to Rowland Yorke, an adventurer of the worst character, who soon opened communications with the Spanish garrison of the town. Stanley’s Irish soldiers were allowed into Zutphen to hear mass; and Leicester, though he was warned of what was going on, took no steps to prevent it. When the Earl went to England, Yorke and Stanley had ample time for plotting, and Deventer was given up to the Spaniards in due course. But treason rarely prospers. Yorke, who was promised a large reward, died under suspicious circumstances before he could enjoy it. Stanley seems to have been more disinterested; but he received money from Philip, joined Parma’s army, and was seen by Robert Cecil during his mission to France in 1598, who notes that the renegade was fain to pull his cap over his face. Nor did all Spaniards approve Stanley’s conduct, if it be true that in passing through Seville ‘he was well handled of the country, for they unarmed him, unhorsed him, reviled him for his lewd doings towards his prince, and made him go on foot; but coming to the King he was in favour, and punishment used on such as thus dealt with him, and the officers displaced for suffering it.’ An invasion of Ireland was contemplated under Stanley’s leadership, and he looked forward with pleasure to the service. ‘I will,’ he said, ‘ruin the whole country as far as Holland and the parts about Wezel (Ijssel) and Emden in six days, and in Ireland I will open such a game of war as the Queen has never seen in her life.’ Against his advice the descent on Ireland was abandoned, and he sank into obscurity; it was even reported that he had gone mad. An Italian named Giacomo de Francesqui, and sometimes called Captain Jacques, who had been his lieutenant in Ireland, was[Pg 163] arrested by Burghley’s orders. This officer was on friendly terms with Florence MacCarthy, and was known to have been acquainted with Ballard; and it was thought that he might be utilised by the Spaniards in Munster. Most of Stanley’s Irish levies doubtless left their bones in the Low Countries, but a few returned to Ireland, and eleven of these poor men were pardoned by Elizabeth nearly seven years after the treason at Deventer. ‘They were,’ she said, ‘innocently forced to disobey us.’ For many years there were reports that Stanley was coming to Ireland, but he never came. In Cheshire old Sir Rowland Stanley ‘grievously lamented his son William the traitor, maintaining his son in Cambridge, and also relieving his wife and children, having no other maintenance.’[155]

The Irish in Spain.
Drake is the terror of Spain.
Irish merchants partisans of Spain.

If Stanley’s advice had been taken, Elizabeth might have been reduced to serious straits, for it was impossible to prevent a Spanish descent, and there were but scant preparations to meet an enemy on shore. Early in 1586 it was rumoured that there would be an invasion on May Day, and Perrott asked for a small cruiser to gather news on the Biscay coast. Merchants from Spain and Portugal reported that Irishmen were free from the embargo laid on English shipping, and that the many Irish residents in the peninsula made no secret of what was going on. Forty thousand men had been collected; eighty-five ships were ready, all but the rigging; Irish refugees from Rome and elsewhere flocked to Spain. Irish sailors were often detained by the Spanish Government, and occasionally told their adventures to Perrott, who also employed a secret agent, one Davy Duke, who knew Italian and Spanish, passed as a Jesuit, and had letters of introduction from a papal bishop imprisoned in Dublin Castle. Miles[Pg 164] Brewett, mariner of Dublin, told how he had been taken before Santa Cruz, and how the Marquis had said that he knew Perrott very well, regretting that he was such a Lutheran, and wishing for one of his best horses and for one of his best hawks. The Admiral asked Brewett much about Ireland, and he answered that he had never known it so quiet. One of James Fitzmaurice’s sons boasted to him that 5,000 men were going to Ireland, that Feagh MacHugh was ready to welcome them, and that all Ireland would do the same, except Dublin, Waterford, and Drogheda. But Brewett heard from others that Philip was weary of the Irish, and that his subjects called them beggars. Their priests cried out against Duke, who, after learning all he could, went over to Bayonne and wrote boldly to say that he was going to his mistress Queen Elizabeth. He bade the Pope farewell, saying that he liked of his countrymen’s company, but not of their learning. As the plot thickened, news of Santa Cruz came constantly to Waterford, and Drake’s very successful predatory cruise was freely discussed by merchants and others. One said that the great sailor must have taken Cadiz if he had landed at once; for that the whole population were at a comedy, where eighteen persons were crushed to death in the panic caused by his appearance—a lady with 16,000 ducats a year being among the victims. Even in the heart of Castille, Spaniards hardly thought themselves safe. Philip and his train were amusing themselves on some artificial water, and a lady who was invited to enter the royal barge refused to do so, ‘for fear of Sir Francis Drake.’ The usually impassive monarch is said to have lost his temper, and banished the timid, or perhaps only sarcastic, lady from court, swearing a great oath that he would be revenged on England. To bring this happy result about, he ordered that all Irishmen and Scots should be used as Spaniards. Baltinglas had left a brother who assumed his title, and offered to invade Ireland if the King would give him 5,000 men. Philip was willing to do so much, but the Irish gentlemen clamoured for twice or thrice as many, and he then said they did not know their own minds, and should have none at all. Despairing of[Pg 165] Spain, Fitzmaurice’s son and some others proposed to go to Ireland and make terms with Perrott, but this plan was given up, owing to rumours of some severe measures of the Irish Government, and they again began to talk glibly of invasion. Santa Cruz had good information about Ireland from Limerick and Waterford merchants, ‘who, under colour of their conscience lie at Lisbon these two years past, and hath their wives and children at home, and doth nothing but hearken for news of the state of England and Ireland, and whatever they can hear they report to the Cardinal and Marquis, and deliver the same with more than they can learn, and all to win themselves credit.’ The English court were not blind to the danger of Ireland, though almost to the last Elizabeth seems hardly to have realised the Armada. Everything was wanting for the defence of Ireland, and the Queen would not listen. ‘If,’ said Perrott, ‘any number of enemies arrive here, the cities and towns of this kingdom, and consequently the realm itself, will stand in great danger of losing, and the few Englishmen that be here in like danger of perishing.... I wish that the desire of peace (whereof I have little hope) may not cause forgetfulness, or breed peril to lose that we have.’[156]

The cess.

The regular revenue of Ireland was small, and as an army was absolutely necessary, it had been usual to levy irregular taxes upon the shires of the Pale. There were plenty of lawyers to condemn taxation without the consent of Parliament; but in this case the prerogative had been allowed, though there were many long disputes as to the amount of the aid, and as to its incidence. Cess of some kind had been exacted since the time of Edward III., and Sidney, who understood the subject thoroughly, describes it as a ‘prerogative of the Prince and an agreement and consent of the nobility and Council to impose upon the country[Pg 166] a certain proportion of victual of all kinds, to be delivered and issued at a reasonable rate, and, as it is commonly termed, the Queen’s price, so that the rising and falling of prices makes the matter easier or heavier to the people.’ The cess had been regularly levied since the latter years of Henry VIII., and a practice had crept in of applying it to the Lord-Deputy’s household as well as to the army. The uncertainty of the impost was the worst part of it, and Elizabeth wished to substitute a regular money payment. Temporary arrangements were made, and the total sum leviable was fixed at 2,100l.; the cultivated parts of Kilkenny, Tipperary, Wexford, Carlow, King’s County, and Queen’s County being made contributory, as well as the original Pale. Perrott tried to abolish the cess altogether, and to substitute a fixed land-tax of 1l. on every ploughland. This was reduced to 13s. 4d., but the Bill failed in the House of Commons, and Perrott had to fall back upon the composition of 2,100l.[157]

Bingham is sent to Holland,
but soon returns to Ireland.

The Council acquitted Bingham of all Dillon’s charges; but no peace followed, and Perrott continued to pile up accusations against him. For the sake of quiet the English Government resolved to utilise Bingham’s energies in Holland, and he took the opportunity to sum up his services for Burghley’s information. Connaught was at peace, though he had little help from his official superior, and Elizabeth was sure to be pleased at his having made the province pay its own expenses. ‘The Lord Deputy,’ he said, ‘took the Composition book from myself, and would not give me so much as a copy of that which in effect was my own work, whereby I was driven to search it out with infinite labour and pains.’ Bingham had been given to understand that he should succeed Lord Willoughby in Holland, and be allowed to appoint a deputy in Connaught. But the Queen named Sir Thomas Le Strange to act during his absence, while giving particular orders that[Pg 167] none of his officers should be displaced. Bingham saw no prospect of advancement in Holland after the departure of Leicester, on whose patronage he relied, and returned to England with him or before him. He was admitted to the Queen’s presence, the house at Athlone was given up to him, in spite of Perrott and of Wallop’s claim to a leasehold interest in it, and he returned to Ireland much stronger than he had left it.[158]

Perrott’s credit declines.
Perrott leaves Ireland.

The restoration of Bingham to his government marks the time when the scale finally turned against Sir John Perrott. His faults of temper have been already sufficiently commented on; he was in bad health; and worse things than ill-health or ill-temper were whispered about him. But Ireland was manifestly peaceful, and by appointing Sir William Fitzwilliam the Queen showed that she expected quiet times and wished for an unambitious policy. Whatever chagrin Perrott may have felt at his supersession, he certainly expressed none. All he asked was that his successor might come at once, so as to let him take the waters at Bath; Spa being now out of the question. Fitzwilliam, however, lingered six months; and when at last the time came for delivering the sword Perrott presented to the Corporation of Dublin a silver gilt bowl bearing his arms and crest, and the words relinquo in pace. In handing over the badge of office he called his successor to witness that all was peaceful, and hoped that he would say so to the Queen’s Council. Fitzwilliam answered that if he could leave it half as well he should do his Queen and country good service. ‘There is,’ continued Perrott, ‘no ill-minded or suspected person in this kingdom, which can carry but six swords after him into the field, but if you will name him and shall desire to have him, notwithstanding that I have resigned the sword, yet... if they come not in on my word, I will lose the merit and reputation of all my service.’ Fitzwilliam replied that it needed not, for all was well. Three days later Perrott left Ireland for ever. A great number of noblemen and gentlemen came to[Pg 168] see him off, among whom old Tirlogh Luineach was conspicuous. That representative of an order that had almost passed away accompanied him to the ship and would not put off until the last moment. He watched the retreating sail until it was below the horizon, and then shed tears ‘as if he had been beaten.’ Nor was it only lords and chiefs who mourned for Perrott. The poor came forty miles to see him pass, praying for his long life and striving to take his hand if possible, or to touch the hem of his garment. When he asked them why they did so, they answered, ‘that they never had enjoyed their own with peace before his time, and did doubt they should never do so again when he was gone.’[159]

State of Ireland when Perrott left—Connaught and Leinster.

The quiet state of Connaught is perhaps most justly attributable to Bingham, but the Lord Deputy might take full credit for Leinster. Yet it was perhaps well that Fitzwilliam was polite, for the home province, though not in rebellion, was full of brigands who would certainly not have come at Perrott’s call. Feagh MacHugh, with his 100 swordsmen, gave a ready refuge to vain and light persons, but he thought it politic to pay his respects to the new governor. His son-in-law, Walter Reagh, one of the bastard Geraldines who had long given trouble, was ready for any desperate feat. Captain Thomas Lee planned his destruction, but Mrs. Lee was an Irishwoman and kept the outlaw well-informed. Walter Reagh promptly murdered one of his followers who had been in communication with Lee, and the captain, not unnaturally, separated from his wife. Sir George Carew had assigned his constableship of Leighlin to Dudley Bagenal, son of the old marshal, whom Perrott justly called a ‘very unadvised man.’ Bagenal had treated many of his Irish neighbours abominably, yet he neglected to keep his proper quota of English, and garrisoned his fort with kerne at 40s. or 3l. a year. Walter Reagh having stolen some cattle, the constable pursued with eighteen[Pg 169] men, was drawn into an ambuscade, killed and mutilated. Walter Reagh was not hanged until ten years later.[160]

Munster. The Desmond forfeitures.
The settlement hangs fire.
Irish and English tenants.

Munster was exhausted by war, and the only danger was from Spain. Some said soldiers were as little needed in Kerry as in Surrey or Middlesex, but little could be done in the way of colonisation while rumours of the Armada filled the air. The land, however, was roughly surveyed, and the seignory of 12,000 acres was fixed as the basis of a plantation, fractional parts being assigned in proportion to the colonists’ means. The younger sons of gentlemen and substantial yeomen were to be encouraged to take leases under the undertakers, as the great grantees were called, and English artisans and labourers were also to be provided, while settlers from the same country were to be placed near one another. Difficulties soon arose. A disposition was shown to stretch the Queen’s title, and this caused universal distrust. Thus Fitzgerald of Decies, who had been created a viscount for his staunch loyalty against the Desmonds, and who had always claimed to hold of the Queen, was required to prove his title strictly. If he could be made out Desmond’s tenant, then was Decies at the Queen’s mercy. It was no wonder that Mr. Surveyor Robins had stones thrown at him. Legal questions sprang up like mushrooms after rain. Who were innocent of rebellion, and how far were conveyances to uses fraudulent? ‘At Cork, Kilmallock, and Clonmel,’ said the Solicitor-General, ‘we spent five weeks in hearing the claims and titles to her Majesty’s lands found by office. We had every man’s bills, and fair evidence showed us, whereby it appears that the Irishry (especially by their daily feofments to uses) have practised as many fraudulent shifts for preserving their lands from forfeiture as in England; and albeit their evidence be fair and very lawlike without exception, yet because fraud is secret and seldom found for her Majesty by jury, we have put the undertakers for the most part in possession, who,[Pg 170] dwelling but half a year upon the lands, shall have better intelligence to discover the false practices than the commissioners can possibly learn out. They plead their cause by lawyers, who almost all of them in those parts have purchased titles against her Majesty, so as we have had much trouble to pacify and content them in some reasonable sort by persuasion of further hearing hereafter, and full allowance of their good titles.’ The Irish took advantage of the delay to take possession of land everywhere, and three or four years after Desmond’s death, the population was five times as great as it had been at the end of the war. A native squatter would offer a higher rent than any English settler, and everyone saw that the Plantation would fail in its main provisions. Between surveyors, lawyers, and undertakers it was impossible to make a clear title to anything, and the settlement hung fire during Perrott’s administration. But some of the undertakers came over and resided, leaving the final measurement of lands to a future day. They quarrelled among themselves, and made confusion more confounded.[161]

Tyrone and Tirlogh Luineach.
Ambition of Tyrone.

In Ulster Tirlogh Luineach was getting old, while Hugh O’Neill, representing the bastard Dungannon branch, grew daily stronger. Hugh was now Earl of Tyrone, with a title to all he held in his country or district, reserving 240 acres to the Crown for the fort at Blackwater, and with a grant of markets and fairs. The new Earl covenanted to let Tirlogh enjoy the chiefry during his life, to abide by the decision of a royal commission as to boundaries, rents, and services, and not to make estates to any of the smaller chiefs called urraughts, without consent of the State. Tirlogh was thus placed in possession of that part of Tyrone which lies north and west of the Mullaghcarne mountains, while receiving 1,000 marks from the Earl for the remainder. But Tyrone grasped at all which Con Bacagh or Shane had enjoyed, and Perrott saw[Pg 171] that he was restrained by fear only. His wife was O’Donnell’s daughter, and with that chief’s help he hoped to crush Tirlogh. But Hugh, the son of Calvagh, claimed the succession in Tyrconnell, and joining his force to that of Tirlogh he attacked Tyrone’s camp at night. The latter’s force was much superior, but he was surprised, defeated, and obliged to fly to Dungannon. Hugh was afterwards murdered by order of Ineen Duive, who wished to clear the succession for her own son. When Fitzwilliam reached Dublin, he found the Earl and Tirlogh there, lodging complaints against each other. Tyrone’s defeat gave great delight to many, and David Power, who had some personal experience of his dealings, said publicly at Dundalk that he would climb so high as to break his neck, while Perrott thought ‘nothing had done so much good in the North these nine years.’ But the troubles in Ulster were only beginning.[162]


[131] Perrott to Walsingham, Nov. 16 and 27, 1584 (with enclosures); to Burghley (with enclosures), Jan. 15, 1585.—Gregory’s Western Highlands, chap. iv., where Perrott’s siege of Dunluce, and other matters belonging to 1584, are placed under 1585.

[132] Stanley to Walsingham, Jan. 5, 1585; George Peverley, victualler, to Walsingham, Jan. 5; to Burghley, Jan. 20; Perrott to Walsingham, Nov. 16, 1584; to Burghley, Jan 15, 1585. The Master of the Ordnance was the same Jacques Wingfield who so narrowly escaped professional ruin in 1561.

[133] Composition of Lord Deputy and Council with Sorley Boy, Oct. 17, 1575; Sorley Boy to Perrott and to Captain Carleile, Feb. 5, 1585; Captain Barkley to Perrott, Feb. 26; Norris to the Privy Council and Fenton to Walsingham, March 7; Beverley to Burghley, April 1; Perrott to Walsingham, April 24.

[134] Lists printed from the roll in Tracts relating to Ireland, vol. ii. p. 134. Kildare, who died in England this year, no doubt had his writ of summons, but does not seem to have attended. He was ill in London on Aug. 3.

[135] Lists as above.

[136] Lists as above. Perrott’s Life, p. 199; see also a partial list of members calendared at May 11, 1586. The Four Masters, under 1585, give a sort of Homeric catalogue of the chiefs present.

[137] Tracts relating to Ireland, vol. ii. p. 143. Ormonde to Burghley, Oct. 20, 1583; Sir N. White to Burghley, May 27, 1585.

[138] Sir N. White to Burghley, May 27, 1585; Perrott to Walsingham, May 30; the Poyning’s Suspension Bill is in Carew, June 1585, No. 578.

[139] Perrott to Walsingham, May 30 and June 18, 1585. He believed that the opposition would collapse if firmly handled, and that firmness would save the Queen’s pocket. ‘If they escape,’ he said, ‘farewell to my reputation both with Irish and English.’

[140] Irish Statutes, 27 Eliz.; Perrott’s Life.

[141] Norris to Walsingham, March 3; Fenton to Walsingham, May 24; Loftus to Burghley, May 31. ‘I am forced to play at small game to set the beasts here a-madding, merely for want of better game.... You think, as I ought to think, that it is time for me to have done with the world; and so I would, if I could get into a better, before I was called into the best, and not die here in a rage, like a poisoned rat in a hole.’—Swift to Bolingbroke, from Dublin, March 21, 1729.

[142] Perrott’s Life; James VI. to Perrott, Aug. 8, in Carew; Perrott to Walsingham, Aug. 10 and Nov. 11; to Burghley, Sept. 8 and 24; Sir H. Bagenal to Perrott, Sept. 3; Wallop to Burghley and Walsingham, Nov. 18; Walsingham to Archbishop Long, Dec.

[143] Composition Book of Connaught and Thomond, Oct. 3. Details may be studied in the appendix to Hardiman’s edition of O’Flaherty’s West Connaught. As to the measurement it may be observed that Clare, to take one county as an example, is estimated at 1,260 quarters. Making allowance for the difference between Irish and English measure, this gives rather less than 250,000 statute acres for all Clare. The real area is about 828,000 acres. The gross acreage of all Connaught and Clare is about five millions and a quarter, and a rental of 4,000l. gives much less than a farthing per acre.

[144] Perrott to Burghley, Sept. 8 and 24, 1585. The ‘Articles’ referred to were sent to Ireland by Fenton in the following spring, and are printed in Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica, i. 63.

[145] Perrott to Walsingham, Jan. 27, 1586; Sir G. Carew to Walsingham Feb. 27; to Burghley, Aug. 2, 1588, in Carew; Lord Deputy and Council to the Privy Council, Jan. 28, 1586; description of Munster, 1588, p. 530; Wallop to Burghley, Oct. 1585 (No. 19) and Nov. 18; to Walsingham, March 7, 1586; Vice-President Norris to the Privy Council, Oct. 18, 1586.

[146] Printed statutes, 28 Eliz. caps. 7 and 8; Perrott to Walsingham, June 18, 1585; Lords Gormanston, Slane, Howth, and Trimleston to the Queen, Dec. 10, 1585. Parliament was dissolved May 14, 1586; and see Speaker Walshe’s speech on that day.

[147] Perrott’s Life, p. 216; Hill’s MacDonnells of Antrim, pp. 171-187; the Queen to the Lord Chancellor and Council, Feb. 26, 1586; Captain Price to Walsingham, March 31; to Burghley, April 15; Fenton to Burghley, April 19 and June 14, 1586; Submission of Sorley Boy, June 14. The Indentures are in Carew ii. 427.

[148] Docwra’s Relation; Four Masters, 1586; Bingham to Walsingham, Feb. 5, 1586; to Perrott, July 30 and Aug. 16 and 26; to Loftus, Aug. 30; Wallop to Walsingham, Aug. 23. The execution of Richard Oge Burke, called Fal fo Erinn, was made a principal charge against Bingham in 1595 and 1596, when his accusers seemed to have driven him finally from Ireland. Bingham justified this execution, since most of the Burkes (including the Blind Abbot, afterwards MacWilliam) declared, under their hands and under the sanction of an oath, that Richard Oge had persuaded them to resist the Governor, to bring in Scots, and to hold the Hag’s Castle against him. Seven members of the Council of Connaught were present at the execution, ‘Sir Richard having no other means of ordinary trial at that time by reason of the great troubles.’—Discourse of the late rebellion of the Burkes, with all the signatures, Nov. 17, 1586; O’Flaherty’s West Connaught, p. 186.

[149] Wallop to Walsingham, Aug. 23, 1586; Maguire to Perrott, Aug. 28; Bingham to Loftus, Aug. 30; answer of Donnell Gorme, &c. (Sept. 22). Bingham says he marched seventy-two miles in two days.

[150] Docwra’s Relation (‘not slain past two persons’); Four Masters, 1586; Stowe’s Chronicle; Bingham to Burghley, Oct. 6, 1586, ‘not one man slain by the enemy;’ to Loftus and Perrott, Sept. 23; to Wallop, Oct. 18; Captain Woodhouse to Fenton, Sept. 23. Bingham owns to ‘divers men hurt and galled.’

[151] Bingham to Burghley, Oct. 8 and Dec. 5, 1586; to Wallop, Oct. 18; Wallop to Burghley, Nov. 15; Irish Council to Burghley, Sept. 27; true discourse of the cause, &c., Nov. 16 and 17; Perrott’s note of his expenses, Sept. (No. 43).

[152] The despatch sent by Fenton is printed in Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica, i. 49; Perrott to Walsingham, Jan. 12, 1586, and four letters to Burghley, on April 12, 15, 16, and 26, from White, Fenton, Perrott, and Wallop respectively.

[153] Perrott’s Life, p. 243. Loftus to Burghley, April 26 and Dec. 4 and 12 1586; to Walsingham, Sept. 30; Bingham to Burghley, Dec. 5 and Feb. 26, 1587; acquital of Bingham under the hands of the Council (Loftus, Bagenal, Bishop Garvey of Kilmore, Gardiner, C.J., and Fenton), Feb. 20, 1587; Wallop to Walsingham, May 31, 1586; Perrott to Leicester, April 18, 1587, in Carew; the Queen to Perrott, Feb. 9, 1587. For the altercation with Bagenal see the Marshal’s own passionate and affecting letter to the Privy Council, May 15, 1587, and another to Leicester in Carew; the Council’s account, May 15; and White’s account, May 23. See also, for Perrott’s behaviour, Wallop to Burghley and Walsingham, April 26, and July 5, 1588.

[154] Perrott to Sir George Carew, April 27 and Oct. 30, 1586, and Aug. 9, 1587; to Leicester, April 18, 1587 (all in Carew); Perrott to Walsingham, March 7, 1588.

[155] The above is chiefly from Motley’s United Netherlands, chap. xiii.; the story of Stanley’s ill-treatment at Seville is in a letter of Dec. 17, 1587, from Bishop Lyons of Cork to Fenton, on the authority of Galway merchants lately from Spain; Privy Council to Perrott, Jan. 30, 1587; warrant for arrest of Captain Jacques, Feb. 9. For reports about Stanley see the Irish and Foreign S. P. passim; the pardon for the eleven soldiers is in Morrin’s Patent Rolls 35 Eliz. No. 31. For Sir Rowland Stanley see Sir Roger Wilbraham to Burghley, May 10, 1590.

[156] Perrott to the Privy Council, Jan. 28, 1586; to Walsingham, Feb. 7, 11, and 20, and March 7; Examination of Miles Brewett, April 26, 1587; James Wyse, Mayor of Waterford, to Perrott, July 30; Perrott to Walsingham, Aug. 9; news by Tyrrell and Woode, Aug. 21; Gaspar Thunder’s report, Oct. 5; Instructions for Sir W. Fitzwilliam, Dec.; Perrott to Walsingham, May 12, 1588.

[157] Sidney’s Brief Relation, 1583; Sidney to the Privy Council, Jan. 27, 1577, in Carew; petition of N. Nugent and others, July 1563, in Carew; Answer of B. Scurlock and others, Jan. 11, 1577, in Carew; Fenton to Burghley, Aug. 22 and Sept. 4, 1586; Perrott to Burghley, June 10, 1585; Note of acts, 1586, in Carew, ii. 425. The composition is in Morrin’s Patent Rolls (note to 39 Eliz.)

[158] Acquittal of Sir R. Bingham, Feb. 20, 1587; his discourse, July; Bingham to Burghley, Oct. 3, 1587, and Feb. 13, 1588.

[159] Perrott to Walsingham, March 7, 18, and 21, and April 1, 1588, and Perrott’s Life; Fitzwilliam’s patent is dated Feb. 17, but he was not sworn till June 30.

[160] Perrott to Carew, March 27, 1587, in Carew; Sir N. Bagenal to Burghley, March 26; H. Sheffield to Burghley, March 29; Andrew Trollope to Burghley, Oct. 27 (for Lee’s case); Perrott’s declaration, June 29, 1588, and Fitzwilliam to Burghley, July 31.

[161] Wallop to Burghley, April 26, 1586; St. Leger to Burghley, May 30; Sir Roger Wilbraham, S.G., to the Munster Commissioners, Sept. 11, 1587; Arthur Robins to Walsingham, Sept. 17; Andrew Trollope to Burghley, Oct. 19; Sir W. Herbert to Burghley, April 30, 1587, and to Walsingham, July 12, 1588.

[162] Morrin’s Patent Rolls, May 10, 29 Eliz., and May 13; Tyrone’s answer, April 1587 (No. 58); Andrew Trollope to Burghley, Oct. 26, 1587; Tyrone to Perrott, Jan. 4, 1588; Perrott to Walsingham, May 12; Bingham to Burghley, May 15; Wallop to Walsingham, June 21.

[Pg 172]



The Armada expected.

On the death of Jacques Wingfield, Perrott had granted the Mastership of the Ordnance to his son, Sir Thomas. It appeared, however, that there had been a grant in reversion passed to Sir William Stanley, which was voidable, but not void, by that officer’s treason. On the place becoming legally vacant it was conferred upon Sir George Carew, the late Master’s nephew. He reported that almost everything in the Dublin store was rusty and rotten, and that the small remainder would soon be as bad, since no allowance was made for maintaining it in a serviceable state. The gunners and armourers were no better than the stores; while Cork, Limerick, and other places were as ill-provided as the capital. Yet the Spaniards were daily expected, and the whole population, exhausted by their late sufferings, stood at gaze, waiting in fear and trembling for the great event.[163]

The Spanish ships appear.
Admiral Recalde.

On the 2nd of August Drake made up his mind that the enemy could not land in any part of Great Britain, and left the Armada to contend with the elements only. The rumours of English defeat which reached Spain were industriously propagated in Ireland also, but on the 26th the discomfiture of the invaders was known as far west as Athlone, though no letter had yet arrived. In the first days of September the flying ships began to tell their own story. From the Giant’s Causeway to the outermost point of Kerry the wild Atlantic seaboard presented its inhospitable face, and the Spaniards who landed met with a reception to match. At first they were the objects of great anxiety, and if the fleet had kept[Pg 173] together, the crews, sick and hungry as they were, might have made some dangerous combination with the natives. But the Duke of Medina Sidonia, with fifty-two ships, managed to weather the Irish coast. This was owing to the advice of Calderon, who was the only officer with him that knew our shores, and who had a proper horror of the terrible west coast of Ireland. Admiral Recalde, a distinguished sailor, but with less local knowledge, parted company with the Duke off the Shetlands. When the storm moderated he had twenty-seven sail with him, but by the time he reached Kerry these were reduced to three. There were twenty-five pipes of wine on board, but no water except what had come from Spain, ‘which stinketh marvellously.’ There was very little bread, and the thirsty wretches could not eat their salt beef. Recalde anchored between the Blaskets and the main land, and sent for water. But Smerwick was close by, and no Kerry Catholic cared to run the risk of comforting the Queen’s enemies. Recalde’s ship, ‘The Don John of Oporto,’ was one of the largest in the whole Armada, containing 500 men, but of these 100 were ill; some died daily, and the strongest were scarcely able to stand. The masts were injured by the English shot and would not bear a press of canvas, yet there was nothing for it but to trust once more to those crazy spars. When Slea Head was passed, the immediate danger was over, and Recalde ultimately reached Corunna, but only to die of exhaustion four days after. He seems to have had some presentiment of disaster. When Medina Sidonia was appointed to command the expedition, his Duchess wished him to decline the perilous honour. If he succeeded, she philosophically remarked, he could be no more than Duke of Medina Sidonia; whereas he would lose his reputation if he failed. ‘Yes,’ said Recalde significantly, ‘if he returns.’[164]

Misery of the Spaniards.
Wreck off Kerry.
Spaniards hanged at Tralee.

The noble landsman to whom Philip, with extraordinary[Pg 174] folly, entrusted the greatest fleet which the world had yet seen, had probably no choice but to make his way homewards as best he might. Unable to cope with the English or to co-operate with Parma, a great seaman might perhaps have been equally unsuccessful in attaining the objects of the expedition. But a chief of even ordinary capacity might have managed to ship some fresh water on the Faroes or the Shetlands. Neither on those islands nor on the Norwegian coast could any serious resistance have been offered; but the chance was lost and the consequences of this neglect were frightful. Wine was but a poor substitute, and some of the victuals were as unwholesome as the foul water. Among other things lime had been mixed with the biscuit, and for this many bakers in Spain were afterwards hanged. The ships were so much damaged, and the men so weak, that it was often impossible to keep clear of the coast. One unfortunate vessel, named ‘Our Lady of the Rose,’ foundered in the Sound of Blasket, in sight of the open water which Recalde had reached. The Genoese pilot had probably no local knowledge, and steered her on to a sunken rock, where she went down with 500 men on board; but not before an officer had killed the poor Italian for supposed treason. The pilot’s son alone escaped, by swimming, to tell the tale. Among the doomed was the young prince of Ascoli, said to be a son of Philip’s, who had originally sailed with Medina Sidonia and had taken a boat at Calais, had failed to regain the admiral’s ship, and had sought refuge upon that which had now gone to the bottom. A small vessel, which seems to have had no boat, was driven into Tralee Bay. Three men swam ashore and offered to surrender, saying they had friends at Waterford who would ransom them; but the names of those friends they refused to disclose. Lady Denny hanged the whole crew, consisting of twenty-four Spaniards, on the ground that there was no way of keeping them safely. Norris afterwards regretted that this had been done, but he also at first dreaded a landing in force.[165]

[Pg 175]

Wrecks off Clare.

Seven ships were driven into the Shannon, and lay for a short time off Carrigaholt. The Spaniards burned one which was too leaky to go to sea again. Another was wrecked in Dunbeg Bay, on the other side of Loop Head, and between 200 and 300 men were drowned. Another was lost at Trumree, a few miles farther north, and the names of Spanish Point and Mal Bay are believed to commemorate the impression which these disasters left upon the native mind. 300 men who landed were slain by the sheriff, in obedience to Bingham’s orders. Another ship lay for a time at Liscannor, where there is little or no shelter, but the crew were unable to land; one of her two boats was washed ashore, and a large oil-jar found in her showed that water was the Spaniards’ great want. Other ships were seen off the Arran Islands, and one of 200 tons came within a mile of Galway. It is not recorded that any of these were lost; but neither does it appear that any were relieved. They drifted away in misery, the men dying daily, and the survivors having to work, though themselves in a condition very little better than that of the fabulous Ancient Mariner.[166]

Wreck in Clew Bay.
Spaniards slaughtered by the Irish.

The ocean waves which roll into Clew Bay are partly broken by the island of Clare, which belonged in the sixteenth century to the O’Malleys—a clan famous as sea-[Pg 176]rovers and fishermen. The western half of the island consists of a heathery mountain, which is said to harbour grouse, though other grouse are so far away. The eastern half is cultivated; but as late as 1870 there were no roads in the island, no wheeled vehicles, and only a single saddle, reserved for the annual visit of the agent. A native leaning on his spade, and lamenting the badness of the potatoes, asked a stray visitor if there were any news of the world. Upon these lonely rocks a large ship, commanded by Don Pedro de Mendoza, foundered with 700 men. Less than 100 had landed two days before, and these were all slaughtered by Dowdary Roe O’Malley, for the sake of the gold which they had brought with them. Mendoza tried to escape with some fishing-boats, but he shared the fate of his men, much to Bingham’s regret. One poor Spaniard and an Irishman of Wexford were spared out of 800. At Ormonde’s village of Burrishoole farther up the bay a ship of 1,000 tons and fifty-four guns was driven ashore. Most of those on board were lost, but sixteen landed with gold chains and surrendered to the Earl’s tenant. It was reported in London that the Duke of Medina Sidonia was among them, and Ormonde sent over a special messenger with orders to seize all that was valuable, to let the Duke ride his own horse, and not to put him in irons, but to treat him as the greatest prince in Spain. But Ormonde was not fortunate enough to capture this rich prize, nor is it likely that any of the plunder was reserved for him.[167]

Wrecks in Connemara.
Spaniards executed.

In the western part of Galway two vessels were wrecked, one of them being the ‘White Falcon’ with Don Luis de Cordova and his company. The O’Flaherties were at first disposed to shelter and befriend the strangers, but Bingham made proclamation that anyone who harboured Spaniards for more than four hours would be reputed as traitors. Many were brought to Galway accordingly, where 300 were straightway executed by the Provost Marshal, who was then sent to exercise his office in O’Flaherty’s country and to do[Pg 177] what he could towards saving ordnance and munitions; and other officers were sent into Mayo with similar instructions. Of the prisoners at Galway forty picked men were reserved for Bingham’s decision, of whom thirty were afterwards executed. Don Luis and nine others were spared, as likely to be worth ransom, or to be able to give useful information.[168]

Alonso de Leyva.

The most famous Spaniard in the Armada was Alonso de Leyva, who was in command of the troops, and who would have acted as general had the invaders effected a landing in force. Even at sea he was the second in command, and had a commission to take supreme direction in case anything should happen to the Duke of Medina Sidonia. De Leyva had been suspected of intriguing for the command during the life of Santa Cruz, and even of thwarting that great seaman’s preparations. He had served under Don John in Flanders, where he raised a famous battalion consisting entirely of half-pay officers, and afterwards in Sicily and Italy; and had resigned command of the cavalry at Milan on purpose to take part in the expedition against England. When the Armada actually sailed he had charge of the vanguard, and had pressed the Duke hard to attack the English in Plymouth Sound, where their superior seamanship would avail them little. The guns of the fort, he said, would be silent, for their fire would do as much harm to one side as to the other. This bold advice was probably wise, but Medina Sidonia was not the man to take it. At a later period De Leyva is said to have directly accused the Duke of cowardice, and to have been threatened by him with the penalty of death—his only answer to every criticism.

His ship and followers.

He himself sailed on board the ‘Rata,’ a ship of 820 tons, 35 guns, and 419 men, of whom only 84 were seamen. Among the landsmen were many noble adventurers, who were desirous of seeing war under so famous a captain. When the fleet parted company the ‘Rata’ remained with Recalde, and went as far as 62° north latitude; the object being to reach Ireland and to refit there. The increasing cold[Pg 178] frustrated this plan, and the half-sinking ships staggered southward again in the direction of Spain.[169]

Alonso de Leyva wrecked in Mayo,
and again in Donegal.

The ‘Rata’ was driven, much disabled, into Blacksod Bay, and anchored off Ballycroy. The sailing-master was Giovanni Avancini, an Italian, who, with fourteen of his countrymen, being ill-treated by the Spaniards, stole the ship’s only boat and wandered off into the country, where they were robbed and imprisoned by the ‘Devil’s Hook’s son’ and others of the Burkes. De Leyva then sent men ashore on casks, who recovered the boat, and the whole ship’s company were brought safe to land. They then entrenched themselves strongly in an old castle near the sea. Two days later, the ‘Rata’ was driven on to the beach. A boat full of treasure, besides such unaccustomed wares as velvet and cloth of gold, fell into the hands of the natives, and the ill-fated ship was fired where she lay. Meanwhile the transport ‘Duquesa Santa Ana,’ of 900 tons, drifted to the same remote haven. She had 300 or 400 men on board, who had been specially levied in honour of the Duchess of Medina Sidonia, but room was somehow made for all De Leyva’s people, and the transport set sail for Spain. The overladen craft had no chance against a head wind, and was driven into Loughros Bay, in Donegal. The shelter was bad, the cables parted, and the ‘Santa Ana’ went on the rocks; but here, again, no lives were lost. The shipwrecked men encamped for several days, and heard that the ‘Gerona,’ one of the four great Neapolitan galleasses which the luckless Hugo de Moncada had commanded, was lying in Killybegs Harbour. De Leyva had been hurt in the leg by the capstan during the confusion on board the ‘Santa Ana,’ and could neither walk nor ride. He was carried nineteen miles across the mountains between four men, and encamped at Killybegs for a fortnight, while the galeass was undergoing repairs. He despaired of reaching Spain in such a crazy bark, and determined, if possible, to land in Scotland. The Spaniards were, in the meantime,[Pg 179] dependent on MacSwiney Banagh for food, and that chief was afraid of bringing famine on his country. At first, the unbidden guests had beef and mutton, but afterwards they were obliged to buy horseflesh.[170]

Alonso de Leyva sails a third time,

Some of the Irish pressed De Leyva to stay and to be their general against the English heretics, but he pleaded that he had no commission to do any such thing. He does, however, seem to have had some idea of wintering in Ulster, which he abandoned either on account of the difficulty of getting provisions, or because he saw no chance of defeating Fitzwilliam, whose arrival in Ulster was constantly expected. And he may have thought that the MacSwineys were not altogether to be trusted. The ‘Gerona’ had been made seaworthy with MacSwiney’s help, and by using the materials of another wreck, but she would not hold anything like the whole of his people. The bulk of them were willing to take their chance of a passage to Scotland, and, in the meanwhile, to make friends with the natives, and to join their fortunes to those of their shipwrecked countrymen. The galeass originally carried 300 galley-slaves, who could not be dispensed with, and less than that number of soldiers and sailors combined. It may be therefore assumed that she put off from Killybegs with not far short of 600 men on board. Her pilots were three Irishmen and a Scot.

but is finally lost off Antrim.

The noble volunteers all shared the fortunes of their chief. The ‘Gerona’ was a floating castle rather than a ship, built for the Mediterranean, and for fine weather, and utterly unsuited for the work required. Nevertheless she weathered Malin Head, and may even have sighted the Scotch coast. The wind came ahead, or the leaks gained upon the pumps—no one will ever know exactly what happened. For some time the fate of Don Alonso was doubtful; but about the beginning of December it became[Pg 180] certainly known that the galeass had gone to pieces on the rock of Bunboys, close to Dunluce. But five persons, of no consequence, escaped, nor were any of the bodies identified. Hidalgos and galley-slaves shared the same watery grave.[171]

Importance of De Leyva.

Alonso de Leyva is described as ‘long-bearded, tall, and slender, of a whitely complexion, of a flaxen and smooth hair, of behaviour mild and temperate, of speech good and deliberate, greatly reverenced not only of his own men, but generally of all the whole company;’ and Philip said that he mourned his loss more than that of the Armada. It was well for England that the sovereign who rated Don Alonso so highly had not given him the supreme command, for the ‘brag countenance,’ which stood Lord Howard in such good stead would not then have been allowed to pass unchallenged. The loss of the ‘Gerona’ brought mourning into many of the noblest houses in Spain and Italy. ‘The gentlemen were so many,’ says a Spanish castaway, who visited the fatal spot, ‘that a list of their names would fill a quire of paper.’ Among them were the Count of Paredes, and his brother Don Francisco Manrique, and Don Thomas de Granvela, the Cardinal’s nephew.[172]

Wrecks in Sligo.
Great loss of life.

Three large ships were wrecked on the seaboard immediately to the north of Sligo Bay. A survivor recorded their failure to double the ‘Cabo di Clara,’ owing to a head wind. Erris Head was probably the actual promontory, and the Spaniards must have thought it was Cape Clear. Their ignorance of the coast is evident, and it seems certain that[Pg 181] they mistook the north-west corner of Connaught for the south-west corner of Munster. Cape Clear was well known by name, and they would have been in no danger after doubling it. As it was, the west coast was a trap into which they drifted helplessly. Even of those who succeeded in rounding the Mullet we have seen that few escaped. Of the three who were lost near Sligo, one was the ‘San Juan de Sicilia,’ carrying Don Diego Enriquez, son of the Viceroy of New Spain and an officer of high rank. They anchored half a league from shore. For four days the weather was thick, and on the fifth a stiff nor’-wester drove them all aground. The best anchors lay off Calais, and there was no chance of working her off shore, for sails and rigging were injured by the English shot. The beach was of fine sand, but there were rocks outside, and in one hour the three ships, badly fastened in the best of times, and kept afloat only by frequent caulking, had completely broken up. Don Diego, foreseeing this, got into a decked boat with the Count of Villafranca’s son, two Portuguese gentlemen, and more than 16,000 ducats in money and jewels, and ordered the hatches to be battened down. With a proper crew she might have reached land safely, but more than seventy despairing wretches flung themselves into her, and the first great wave swept them all into the sea. The imprisoned hidalgos had no control over the boat, which was driven on to the beach bottom upwards. More than thirty-six hours later the natives came to rifle her, and dragged out the bodies. Three were dead, and Don Diego expired immediately after his release. According to the Spanish account more than 1,000 were drowned altogether, and less than 300 escaped, and this agrees pretty well with what we learn from English sources. ‘At my late being at Sligo,’ says Fenton, ‘I numbered in one strand of less than five miles in length above 1,100 dead corpses of men which the sea had driven upon the shore, and, as the country people told me, the like was in other places, though not of like number.’[173]

[Pg 182]

The survivors are stripped and robbed by the Irish,
who rejoice over their prey.
But some are more humane.

The smallest of the three ships was that which carried Don Martin de Aranda, who acted as judge-advocate-general or provost-marshal to the Armada, and who had been ordered by the Duke of Medina Sidonia to hang Don Cristobal de Avila and Captain Francisco de Cuellar for leaving their places in the line. The first was actually hanged, and carried round the fleet at the yard-arm of a despatch boat to encourage the rest. Cuellar was spared at the provost-marshal’s earnest request, and with him he remained until the loss of the ship. He stood on the poop to the last, whence he saw hundreds perish and a few reach the shore astride on barrels and beams, to be murdered in many cases, and stripped in all, by ‘200 savages and other enemies,’ who skipped and danced with joy at the disaster which brought them plunder. Don Martin de Aranda came to Cuellar in tears, both sewed coin into their clothes and after some struggles found themselves together upon the floating cover of a hatchway. Covered with blood and injured in both legs, Cuellar was washed ashore, but Don Martin was drowned. ‘May God pardon him,’ says the survivor, and perhaps he needed pardon, for it was he who had signed the order to kill all the French prisoners after the fight at Terceiras. Unobserved by the wreckers, Cuellar crawled away, stumbling over many stark naked Spanish corpses. Shivering with cold and in great pain he lay down in some rushes, where he was joined by ‘a cavalier, a very gentle boy,’ who was afterwards discovered to be a person of consequence, stripped to the skin, and in such terror that he could not even say who he was. He himself was a mere sponge full of blood and water, half-dead with pain and hunger; and in this state he had to pass the night. Two armed natives who chanced to pass took pity on them, covered them with rushes and grass which they cut for the purpose,[Pg 183] and then went off to take their part in the wrecking. Green as the covering was, it probably saved Cuellar’s life, but at daybreak he found, to his great sorrow, that the poor, gentle lad was dead.[174]

Adventures of Francisco de Cuellar.
A devout damsel.

Slowly and painfully Cuellar made his way to what he calls a monastery, probably the round tower and church of Drumcliff, which is about five miles from the scene of the shipwreck. He found no living friends in this ancient foundation of St. Columba, but only the bodies of twelve Spaniards, hanged ‘by the Lutheran English’ to the window gratings inside the church. An old woman, who was driving her cows away for fear of the soldiers, advised him to go back to the sea, where he was joined by two naked Spaniards. Miserable as they were, they picked out the corpse of Don Diego from among more than 400, and buried him in a hole dug in the sand, ‘with another much-honoured captain, a great friend of mine.’ Two hundred savages came to see what they were doing, and they explained by signs that they were saving their brethren from the wolves and crows, which had already begun their ghastly work. As they were looking for any chance biscuits which the sea might have cast up four natives proposed to strip Cuellar, who alone had some clothes, but another of higher rank protected him. While on his way to this friendly partisan’s village, he met two armed young men, an Englishman and a Frenchman, and a ‘most extremely beautiful’ girl of twenty, who prevented the Englishman from killing, but not from stripping, the wretched Spaniard. A gold chain worth 1,000 reals was found round his neck, and forty-five ducats sewn up in his doublet, being two months’ pay received before leaving Corunna. He protested that he was only a poor soldier, but it was nevertheless proposed to detain him as worth ransom. Cuellar records, with some complacency, that the girl pitied him much, and begged them to return his clothes and to do him no more harm. His doublet was restored, but not his shirt, nor a relic of great repute which he had brought from Lisbon, and which ‘the savage damsel hung round her neck, saying, by signs,[Pg 184] that she meant to keep it, and that she was a Christian, being as much like one as Mahomet was.’ A boy was ordered to take him to a hut, to put a plaster of herbs on his wound, and to give him milk, butter, and oatmeal cake.[175]

A visit to O’Rourke.
Cuellar is enslaved by a smith;
but escapes to MacClancy.

Cuellar was directed towards the territory of O’Rourke, narrowly escaped a band of English soldiers, was beaten and stripped naked by forty ‘Lutheran savages’ not easily identified, mistook two naked Spaniards for devils in the dark, joined them, and at last, after enduring almost incredible hardships, reached the friendly chief’s house, partly wrapped in straw and fern. O’Rourke had many houses. This one may have been Dromahaire, near to the eastern extremity of Lough Gill. It was a castle, and Cuellar calls it a hut, the probability being that thatched outhouses were generally occupied, and that the stone keep was little used except for defence. Everyone pitied the stranger, and one man gave him a ragged old blanket full of lice. Twenty other Spaniards came to the same place, reporting a large ship not far off. Cuellar was unable to keep up with them, and thus failed to embark on a vessel which was soon afterwards wrecked. All that escaped the sea were killed by the soldiers. Cuellar then fell in with a priest, who was dressed in secular habit for fear of the English, and who spoke in Latin. Following his directions the Spaniard sought the castle of MacClancy, a chief under O’Rourke who held the country south and west of Lough Melvin, and who was a great enemy of Queen Elizabeth. A savage whom he met enticed him to his cabin in a lonely glen. The man turned out to be a smith, who set his prisoner to blow the bellows. This lasted for eight days, and as the old man of the sea refused to let Sindbad go, so did this old man of the mountains declare that Cuellar should stay all his life with him. The Spaniard worked steadily for fear of being thrown into the fire by this ‘wicked, savage smith and his accursed hag of a wife.’ The friendly priest then appeared, and owing to his exertions, four natives and one Spaniard were sent by MacClancy to release Cuellar. He found ten of his shipwrecked countrymen with MacClancy,[Pg 185] and everyone pitied him, especially the women, for he had no covering but straw. ‘They fitted me out,’ he says, ‘as well as they could with one of their country mantles, and during my stay of three months I became as great a savage as they were.’ Cuellar seems to have been susceptible to female influences, for he remarks that his host’s wife was extremely beautiful and very kind to him, and he spent a good deal of time in telling her fortune and those of her fair relatives and friends. This was amusing at first, but when men and less interesting women began to consult him he was forced to apply to his host for protection. MacClancy would not let him go, but gave general orders that no one should annoy him.[176]

A wild Irish household.

An account of an Irish household by a foreigner who had lived among the people for months, and whose sight was not coloured by English prejudice, is so rare a thing that Cuellar’s may well be given in full.

The men.
The women.
The Irish rob the Spaniards, but save their lives.

‘The habit of those savages is to live like brutes in the mountains, which are very rugged in the part of Ireland where we were lost. They dwell in thatched cabins. The men are well-made, with good features, and as active as deer. They eat but one meal, and that late at night, oat-cake and butter being their usual food. They drink sour milk because they have nothing else, for they use no water, though they have the best in the world. At feasts it is their custom to eat half-cooked meat without bread or salt. Their dress matches themselves—tight breeches, and short loose jackets of very coarse texture; over all they wear blankets, and their hair comes over their eyes. They are great walkers and stand much work, and by continually fighting they keep the Queen’s English soldiers out of their country, which is nothing but bogs for forty miles either way. Their great delight is robbing one another, so that no day passes without fighting, for when[Pg 186]ever the people of one hamlet know that those of another possess cattle or other goods, they immediately make a night attack and kill each other. When the English garrisons find out who has lifted the most cattle, they come down on them, and they have but to retire to the mountains with their wives and herds, having no houses or furniture to lose. They sleep on the ground upon rushes full of water and ice. Most of the women are very pretty, but badly got up, for they wear only a shift and a mantle, and a great linen cloth on the head, rolled over the brow. They are great workers and housewives in their way. These people call themselves Christians, and say Mass. They follow the rule of the Roman Church, but most of their churches, monasteries, and hermitages are dismantled by the English soldiers, and by their local partisans, who are as bad as themselves. In short there is no order nor justice in the country, and everyone does that which is right in his own eyes. The savages are well affected to us Spaniards, because they realise that we are attacking the heretics and are their great enemies. If it was not for those natives who kept us as if belonging to themselves, not one of our people would have escaped. We owe them a good turn for that, though they were the first to rob and strip us when we were cast on shore. From whom and from the three ships which contained so many men of importance, those savages reaped a rich harvest of money and jewels.’[177]

Wanderings of Cuellar.
A narrow escape.
A friendly bishop.

Cuellar helped MacClancy to defend his castle against the Lord Deputy, and the chief was as unwilling to let him go as the smith had been. He escaped with four other Spaniards, during the first days of the new year, and after three weeks’ hardship in the mountains found himself at Dunluce in Antrim, where Alonso de Leyva had been lost. He was told that his only chance of a passage to Scotland was by some boats belonging to O’Cahan, which were expected to sail soon. The wound in his leg had broken out afresh, and he was unable to stand for some days. His companions left him to shift for himself, and after a painful walk to Coleraine he found that[Pg 187] the boats had gone. There was a garrison there, and he had to take shelter in a mountain hut, where some women compassionately nursed him. In six weeks his wound was well enough to enable him to seek an interview with O’Cahan, but that chief, who was afraid to help any Spaniard, had gone upon a foray with the soldiers. ‘I was now,’ he says, ‘able to show myself in the town, which was of thatched houses, and there were some very pretty girls, with whom I struck up a great friendship and often visited their house to converse. One afternoon when I was there, two young Englishmen came in, and one of them, who was a sergeant, asked me if I was a Spaniard, and what I did there. I said yes, and that I was one of Don Alonso de Luzon’s soldiers who had surrendered, that my bad leg had prevented me from going with the rest, and that I was at their service to do their bidding. They said they hoped soon to take me with them to Dublin, where there were many Spaniards of note in prison. I replied that I could not walk, but was very willing to accompany them. They then sent for a horse, and their suspicions being set at rest, they began to romp with the girls. The mother made me signs to leave, which I did very quickly, jumping over ditches and going through thick covert till I came within view of O’Cahan’s castle. At nightfall I followed a road which led me to a great lagoon.’ This was probably Lough Foyle, and here he was befriended by herdsmen, one of whom, after a visit to Coleraine, told him that he had seen the two Englishmen ‘raging in search’ of him. He kept his counsel, but advised Cuellar to remove into the mountains. He was conducted to the hiding-place of a bishop, ‘a very good Christian,’ who prudently dressed like the country folk. ‘I assure you,’ writes the devout Spaniard, ‘that I could not restrain my tears when I came to kiss his hand.’ It seems almost certain that this was Redmond O’Gallagher, papal bishop of Derry and acting Primate, one of the three Irish prelates who had attended the Council of Trent. He had twelve other Spaniards with him, and by his help Cuellar managed to reach Scotland. ‘He was a reverend and just man,’ says the latter; ‘may God’s hand keep him free from his enemies.’

[Pg 188]

Final escape of Cuellar.

Four shiploads of castaways from the Armada were ultimately despatched from Scotland, and were not molested by the English, to whom they were no longer dangerous; but Cuellar was wrecked once more near Dunkirk, and saw 270 of his companions butchered by the Dutch. At last, in October 1589, fourteen months after his narrow escape from swinging at the Duke of Medina Sidonia’s yard-arm, did this much-enduring man reach Antwerp, which was then in the hands of Alexander Farnese, and from thence he wrote the account which has been so largely used.[178]

More than twenty ships lost in Ireland

It is not possible to trace the history of every ship lost on the Irish coast. Bingham, in a letter written when all was over, says twelve ships were wrecked in his province, which included Clare, and that probably two or three more foundered about various islands. He particularly excluded those lost in Ulster and Munster. In a paper signed by Secretary Fenton the total number of vessels lost is given as eighteen, but full accounts had not yet come in, and that number certainly falls short of the truth. Cuellar says that more than twenty were lost in the kingdom of Ireland, with all the chivalry and flower of the Armada.[179]

[Pg 189]

Great loss of life.

According to Fenton’s account 6,194 men belonging to the eighteen ships whose loss he records, were ‘drowned, killed, and taken.’ This does not include those who escaped, nor the men belonging to ships not comprised in his list. At the end of October the number of Spaniards alive in Donegal alone was not far short of 3,000. About 500 escaped from Ulster to Scotland—‘miserable, ragged creatures, utterly spoiled by the Irishry’—and some of their descendants remain there to this day, and preserve the tradition of their origin. Very few of them reached Spain, and on the whole, we may believe that the number of subjects lost to Philip II. out of that part of the fleet which was lost in Ireland, cannot have been much short of 10,000. ‘In my province,’ says Bingham, ‘there hath perished at the least 6,000 or 7,000 men, of which there hath been put to the sword by my brother George, and executed one way and another, about 700 or 800, or upwards. Bingham spared some Dutchmen[Pg 190] and boys, as probably engaged against their wills, but these were executed by the Lord Deputy himself when he visited Athlone. Twenty-four survivors from a wreck were executed at Tralee, but this was done in a panic, and was quite unnecessary. Munster was indeed too thoroughly subdued to make the presence of a few Spaniards dangerous. In Ulster the arm of the Government scarcely reached the castaways until they were no longer of much importance. Even the native Irish did not always spare those who had come to deliver them. The MacSwineys killed forty at one place in Donegal. Plunder was no doubt the object, as it had been in Tyrawley and in Clare island, but a desire to curry favour with the Government had also a good deal to say to it. It was only in those parts of Ulster and Connaught where the power of the chiefs was still unbroken, that the Spaniards received any kind of effectual help.[180]

Tyrone and O’Donnell.
The Spaniards powerless.

Tyrone did what he could for the Spaniards by sending them provisions, and he bitterly reproved O’Donnell, who with his eldest son had helped the Government against them. Other O’Donnells joined the strangers, and the chief does not seem to have carried his country with him. His MacDonnell wife made no secret of her intention to employ the foreigners for her own purposes. Tyrone himself was careful not to commit any overt act, and indeed professed the utmost loyalty, but he took the opportunity to renew his complaints against Tirlogh Luineach. Two brothers named Ovington or Hovenden, who were partly in his service and partly in the Queen’s, skirmished with the Spaniards wrecked in Innishowen and brought most of them prisoners to Dungannon; but many of their soldiers ran away, and their own good faith was much suspected. The MacSwineys all helped the Spaniards more or less, and O’Dogherty complained that they transferred them to his country as soon as their own had been eaten up. With men and boats he had saved many hundreds[Pg 191] from a wreck, but this was little more than common humanity demanded. There were at one time about 3,000 Spaniards alive in Ulster. O’Rourke had given them arms; MacClancy interrupted the communications; Ballymote, where George Bingham had a house, was burned by the O’Connors, O’Dowds, and O’Harts, who said they were making way for King Philip, and it was thought that Sligo must inevitably fall into their hands. Bingham’s vigour disconcerted the plans of the confederates, and a good many of the Spaniards made their way to Scotland. A few continued to lurk in different parts of Ireland, down to 1592 at least, but it is hardly possible to believe, what is so often stated, that they were in numbers sufficient to leave traces upon the features and complexions of the natives. Spanish blood there may be in Ireland, but it is surely more reasonable to attribute it to the commerce which existed for centuries between a land of fish and a land of wine.[181]

Wreck in Lough Foyle.
Officers ransomed.

The ship wrecked in O’Dogherty’s country was the ‘Trinidad Valencera’ of Venice. She had on board about 600 men—Spaniards, Greeks, and Italians; and of these 400, including more than 100 sick, were brought to shore, some of them with arms, but ‘without even one biscuit.’ ‘The natives, who are savages,’ had retired into the mountains, but they found some horses at grass, which they killed and ate. They were attacked by Tyrone’s foster-brethren, Richard and Henry Hovenden, who made much of the glorious victory of 140 over 600. The Spaniards said that they had surrendered on promise of their lives and of decent treatment; but that their captors nevertheless stripped them naked and killed a great many, not more than eighty being reserved as prisoners. Among these was one who seemed to carry ‘some kind of majesty.’ This was probably Don Alonso de Luzon, chief of the tercio or brigade of Naples, who was distinguished by a pointed beard and a large moustache. De Luzon with several[Pg 192] other officers was brought to Drogheda, where they were told that those who had plundered them were not Englishmen but sons of the soil. Don Diego de Luzon and two others died after their arrival, and several had perished on the road. Don Alonso and Rodrigo de Lasso, who were both knights of Santiago, were sent to London for ransom, as well as Don Luis de Cordova and his nephew, the only prisoners whom Fitzwilliam allowed to live of those which Bingham had saved. More than fifty others were afterwards sent over, and something like 800l. appears to have been paid by way of ransom for them all.[182]

The Irish got the plunder.
Small gain to the Queen.
Relics and traditions.

The amount of plunder secured did not at all satisfy expectation. Much treasure fell into the hands of the Irish, who regarded the wreckage as a godsend. The small arms and the lighter pieces of artillery were appropriated in the same way. The larger cannon were not so easily moved, and a few were recovered by Carew and others. One wedge of gold found its way to the Queen, and there were rumours of various costly articles which had been seized by officers or adventurers. The guns rescued for her Majesty hardly exceeded a dozen, and a few others were sent into Scotland by the MacDonnells, who also got hold of a good many doubloons. The relics which have been handed down to us are very few, but the memory of the invincible Armada is preserved by the names which have clung to some points of the Irish coast.[183]

The Armada a crusade.
Irish priests on board.
Other Irishmen.

By a strange reading of history it has lately been attempted to divest the Armada of its religious character. It[Pg 193] is very true that some of Queen Elizabeth’s subjects were conspicuous by their loyalty, though they adhered to the communion of Rome: they were Englishmen first and Catholics afterwards. But it was against heresy and against the queen of heresy that Philip shot his bolt. One Spanish poem in honour of the Armada begins with an invocation of the Virgin ‘conceived without sin,’ and ends with some lines about turning the Lutherans into good Christians. Another poet laments that the wise, powerful, and warlike island of Britain had been changed from a temple of faith into a temple of heresy. The land which produced the Arthurs, the Edwards, and the Henrys, was now, he says, condemned to eternal infamy for submitting to a spindle instead of the sceptre and sword; and he apostrophises Elizabeth as anything but a virgin queen, but rather as the wolfish offspring of an unchaste mother. Lope de Vega, who served in the Armada, contents himself with calling Philip the Christian Ulysses, and the Queen of England a false siren; and he avers that faith only despatched the vast fleet from the Spanish shore. 180 Spanish and Portuguese friars sailed in the Armada, Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelites, Augustinians, and Theatins being all represented; and there were certainly some Irish ecclesiastics. ‘Tomas Vitres’ is probably Thomas White of Clonmel, who became a Jesuit in 1593. There was also a friar named James ne Dowrough, who originally went to Spain with James Fitzmaurice, and who was cast upon the coast of Donegal, where the people paid him much respect. Some few Irish laymen there were also on board, of whom the most important was a son of James Fitzmaurice, who died at sea and who was buried with a great ceremonial in Clew Bay. One or two other Desmond Geraldines are also mentioned. There were a few who belonged to good families of the Pale, the most important being Baltinglas’s brother, Edmund Eustace.[Pg 194] Eustace was reported dead, but he got back to Spain. Cahil O’Connor, who killed Captain Mackworth, was another, and he also was afterwards alive in Spain. James Machary, a native of Tipperary, said he was impressed at Lisbon. On the whole it is clear that there was no thought at all of a descent on Ireland, though some Spaniards taken in Tralee Bay said that on board the Duke of Medina’s ship was an Englishman called Don William, a man of a reasonable stature, bald, and very like Sir William Stanley. But Stanley had not left the Netherlands, and there were other Englishmen in the Spanish fleet.[184]

Rumours from Spain.
A tradition.

As late as February, 1589, Irish merchants spread flattering reports in Spain. Alonso de Leyva was alive, they said, and held Athlone against the Lord Deputy with 2,000 men; but an Irish bishop at Corunna said there were no Spaniards in Ireland, and the tellers of both tales were arrested until the truth should be known. Norris had recommended that Irish auxiliaries should be used in retaliating on the coast of Spain, and when he visited Corunna with Drake they lamented that the advice had not been taken. ‘Had we had either horse on land, or some companies of Irish kerne to have pursued them, there had none of them escaped.’ There is a tradition in Munster, and the local historian fixes the date in 1589, that Drake was pursued by Spaniards into Cork harbour, that he took refuge among the woods in the secluded Carrigaline river, and that the foreigners sailed round the harbour and departed without being able to find him. It is not easy to say when this happened, but the place is called ‘Drake’s hole’ unto this day.[185]

The last of the Armada.

The Scotch Government did what it could to get rid of the Spaniards peaceably, but some were not shipped off until July 1589, and even then a remnant was left. They hung about the Orkneys, taking stray English vessels and even[Pg 195] committing some murders on Scottish soil. In the correspondence to which they gave rise Bothwell’s name is frequently mentioned, and they continued to give trouble for some years. The few who lingered in Ireland could do but little harm, and the years which followed Philip’s great enterprise were unusually quiet.[186]


[163] Carew to Burghley, July 18 and Aug. 2, 1588; to Walsingham, July 18, Aug. 4 and Sept. 18; to Heneage, July 18 and Aug. 4, all in Carew.

[164] Examination of Emanuel Fremoso and Emanuel Francisco, Sept. 12, 1588; James Trant, sovereign of Dingle, to Sir Edward Denny, Sept. 11; Bingham to Burghley, Aug. 26; Ormonde to Mr. Comerford, Sept. 18. Recalde’s ship was burned by Drake at Corunna in April 1589; she had then sixty-eight pieces of brass cannon. See Duro’s Armada Invencible, ii. 446. ‘Cuando torne’ were Recalde’s words.

[165] Examination of Juan Antonio of Genoa, Sept. 15; Vice-President Norris to Walsingham, Sept. 8 and 9; William Herbert to Fitzwilliam, Feb. 1589; Peter Grant’s news under Feb. 28.

[166] Nicholas Kahane to the Mayor of Limerick, Sept. 12; George Woodloke to the Mayor of Waterford, Sept. 10; Boetius Clancy, sheriff of Clare, to Bingham, Sept. 6. Mr. James Frost, of Limerick, writes as follows:—‘One ship was driven upon the rocks at a place called Spanish Point (Rinn na Spainig) near Miltown Malbay.... The tradition is that the other ship was driven ashore at a place called Ballagh-a-line, not far from Lisdoonvarna. Boetius Clancy of Knockfime, a place one mile distant from the scene, was sheriff of Clare in that year. He ordered such of the crew as came alive on the shore to be hanged, and they were buried in one pit near the church of Killilagh. The place of execution has been long since called Knockacroghery (the hangman’s hill) and the tumulus of earth heaped over the dead Spaniards is called Tuaim na Spainig. In a few years afterwards, peace being restored between England and Spain, a request was made to the English Government for permission to exhume the body of the son of one of the first grandees of Spain, who had been on board the lost ship, in order to its removal home for burial. Consent was given, but the body having been placed with the rest in one grave, could not be found. Clancy was greatly blamed by all parties for his inhumanity.’

[167] Edwarde Whyte to Walsingham, Sept. 30; Ormonde to Comerford, Sept. 18.

[168] Edwarde Whyte to Walsingham, with discourse enclosed, Sept. 30; examination of Don Luis de Cordova, Oct. 1.

[169] Duro, i. 34, 44, 200, ii. 374, 440, ib. 66-70 for the names of the noble volunteers, among whom is ‘Manuel Paleologo,’ with two followers.—Froude, xii. 503.

[170] The most circumstantial account of De Leyva’s adventures, so far, is the deposition, taken on Dec. 29, of James Machary, a Tipperary man who was on board the ‘Santa Ana.’ Other particulars are in the ‘discourse’ sent by E. Whyte to Walsingham on Sept. 30. See also Fitzwilliam to Burghley, Oct. 27, with the enclosures; Duro, i. 171 Gerald Comerford to Bingham, Sept. 13.

[171] Bingham to the Queen, Dec. 3; Fitzwilliam, &c., to the Privy Council, Dec. 31; Duro, ii. 65; advertisement by Henry Duke, Oct. 26.

[172] Machary’s examination, Dec. 29, and that of George Venerey, a Cretan. Duro, ii. 66-70, 364. The gentleman-adventurers who sailed both on the ‘Rata’ and ‘Santa Ana’ were doubtless collected on board the ‘Gerona.’ Captain Merriman, writing to Fitzwilliam on Oct. 26, says 260 bodies were washed ashore, as well as certain wine, which was appropriated by Sorley Boy MacDonnell. A small cove close to the Giant’s Causeway is still called Port-na-Spania. There is a local tradition that the fallen pillars of basalt on the height were knocked down by the Spanish gunners, who mistook them for Dunluce Castle; but they were not thinking of bombarding castles just then.

[173] Cuellar’s narrative in Duro, ii. 342; Sir Geoffrey Fenton to Burghley, Oct. 28. The following is from Col. Wood Martin’s History of Sligo, 1882: ‘The largest of the galleons struck on a reef (from that circumstance called Carrig-na-Spania, or the Spaniard’s Rock) situated off the little island of Derninsh, parish of Ahamlish. On the map of the Sligo coast (A.D. 1609) is placed opposite to this island the following observation:—“Three Spanish ships here cast away in A.D. 1588.”’ The bodies lay on Streedagh strand, and cannon-balls and bones have been cast up there within the last few years.

[174] Duro, i. 123, ii. 343-347.

[175] Duro, ii. 347-350.

[176] Duro, ii. 350-358. The chief who sheltered Cuellar is called by him Manglana, and in the State Papers MacGlannagh or MacGlannahie. ‘The barony of Rossclogher in Leitrim,’ says O’Donovan, ‘was the territory of the family of Mag-Flannchadha, now anglicised MacClancy.’—Irish Topographical Poems, xxxvii. 268.

[177] Duro, ii. 358-360. Cuellar calls all the Irish—men and women, chiefs and kerne—by the same name, ‘salvajes.’

[178] The work quoted is La Armada Invencible, by Captain Cesareo Fernandez Duro of the Spanish navy, Madrid, 1885. For my first acquaintance with this book, which deserves translation, I am indebted to a charming article by Lord Ducie in the Nineteenth Century for September 1885. Neither Captain Duro nor Lord Ducie can explain the words ‘D. Reimundo Termi Obispo de Times,’ nor can I. The Irish word Termon may have something to do with it, but whatever ‘Termi’ and ‘Times’ may mean, ‘Reimundo’ is good enough Spanish for Redmond. A year later Bishop O’Gallagher is mentioned in a State paper as ‘Legate to the Pope and custos Armaghnen ... using all manner of spiritual jurisdiction throughout all Ulster ... these twenty-six years past and more.’ The Spanish captain’s prayer was heard till 1601, when the bishop was killed by the English not far from the place where Cuellar had kissed his hand. Brady’s Episcopal Succession, s.v. Four Masters, 1601. Note of Popish bishops, &c. by Miler Magrath, calendared at Dec. 17, 1590.

[179] From a careful comparison of accounts I venture to distribute the wrecks as follows:—

This makes twenty, and there were probably two or three more lost. The ‘Barca de Amburg’ (600 tons, 23 guns, 264 men) sank off the coast somewhere.

The numbers of men given in this note are from the Spanish official list (Duro, ii. 60), but we know that many were transferred from one vessel to another. See, besides the authorities already cited, Fenton’s note calendared at Sept. 19, 1588, and Bingham to the Queen, Dec. 3. Other ships mentioned in Spanish accounts as having been lost in Ireland are the galleon ‘San Juan Battista’ (750 tons, 24 guns, 243 men); the ‘Anunciada’ (703 tons, 24 guns, 275 men), and the transports, ‘Gran Grifon’ (650 tons, 38 guns, 286 men), and ‘Santiago’ (600 tons, 19 guns, 86 men).—Duro, ii. 328.

[180] Note by Fenton, Sept. 19; Bingham to Fitzwilliam, Sept. 21 and Oct. 10; to the Queen, Dec. 3; Norris to Walsingham, Sept. 8 and 9; advertisements from Henry Duke, Oct. 26; Fitzwilliam, Loftus, and Fenton to the Privy Council, Dec. 31.

[181] Lord Deputy and Council to the Privy Council, Oct. 12, with twenty enclosures; Fitzwilliam to Burghley, Oct. 27, with six enclosures; Solomon Farenan to Fitzwilliam, Feb. 18, 1589; Bingham to Fitzwilliam, Jan. 3, 1592; Fitzwilliam to Burghley, May 9, 1592.

[182] Duro, ii. 450 sqq.; examination of Don Alonso de Luzon, &c., Oct. 13, 1588; Fitzwilliam to Burghley, Dec. 31. Sir Horatio Pallavicino arranged with Walsingham for the ransoms; see his accounts, Dec. 1589, No. 85, and Oct. 31, 1591, also G. B. Guistiniano to Burghley, April 8, 1591. On March 14, 1594, Tyrone made it an article against Fitzwilliam that neither he nor the Hovendens had been rewarded for their service.

[183] Bingham to Fitzwilliam, Sept. 21, 1588; Sir W. Herbert to Walsingham, Dec. 27, 1588; Lord Deputy and Council to the Privy Council, Dec. 31 and Jan. 30, 1588-9; see also several letters in Carew from June 2 to Aug. 1, 1589. The most important relic that I know is a very handsome table preserved at Dromoland; it was washed ashore near Miltown Malbay, and tradition says that it was ‘in the admiral’s cabin;’ but Sidonia never went near the coast of Clare. Lord Inchiquin writes that a letter, supposed to be still extant, accompanied the table to Dromoland, but that he has been unable to find it. An iron chest washed ashore near the Giant’s Causeway is in Lord Antrim’s possession. The Macnamara family formerly possessed cups, a watch, crosses, &c., out of the Armada, brought from the Arran Islands, but these I have been unable to trace; guns have been recovered, but not many, and the rudder of a ship was cut into gateposts near Westport!

[184] For the poems see Duro, i. 237, and ii. 85; examination of Spaniards taken at Tralee, Sept. 9, 1588; Fitzwilliam to Burghley, Oct. 27, with enclosures; examination of James Machary, Dec. 29, &c.

[185] Fitzwilliam to Burghley, March 14, 1589, with enclosures; Drake and Norris to the Privy Council, May 7, printed in Barrow’s Life of Drake Smith’s Cork, i. 216.

[186] Notices in the Calendar of S. P. Scotland, especially Oct. 28, 1588.

[Pg 196]



Ulster after the Armada.
Case of Sir John O’Gallagher.

When the danger was over, it was not unnatural that Fitzwilliam should wish to chastise those who had favoured the invaders, or at least to reduce them to submission. His enemies said he only wanted to convert some of the Spanish treasure to his own use; but it is clear that he got none of it, either for himself or for the Queen. On two miles of strand in Sligo ‘there lay,’ he says, ‘more wrecked timber in my opinion (having small skill or judgment therein) than would have built five of the greatest ships that ever I saw, besides mighty great boats, cables, and other cordage answerable thereunto, and some such masts, for bigness and length, as in mine own judgment I never saw any two could make the like.’ But there were no doubloons. The castles of Ballyshannon and Belleek were in possession of Tyrone’s father-in-law, Sir John MacToole O’Gallagher, who had formerly enjoyed a good service pension of 100l., of which he had been deprived by Perrott. He was now in close alliance with Ineen Duive, the mother of Hugh Roe O’Donnell, and it was dangerous to oppose her, for she murdered at this time another O’Gallagher whose independent bearing annoyed her. Neither O’Rourke nor any of the smaller chiefs who had befriended the Spaniards came to Fitzwilliam, and the cattle were driven off into the mountains. O’Donnell did come, and so did Sir John O’Gallagher and Sir John O’Dogherty. Fitzwilliam’s enemies said O’Gallagher came under safe conduct, but the annalists do not allege this. The Deputy himself says he persuaded him to come by courteous entreaty, and that O’Dogherty came of his own accord. He treated them as[Pg 197] sureties for Perrott’s tribute, of which ‘not one beef had been paid,’ and carried them both prisoners to Dublin; but the 2,100 cows remained in Donegal. Whether word was broken with these chiefs or not, Fitzwilliam’s policy was certainly bad. How were O’Rourke and MacSwiney punished by imprisoning O’Gallagher or O’Dogherty? There could be no result except to make Irishmen very shy of the Viceroy. O’Dogherty remained in Dublin Castle for a year or more, and the deputy Remembrancer of the Exchequer said he was only released then because certain hogsheads of salmon were sent to the Lord Chancellor’s cellar. O’Gallagher remained six years in prison, Fitzwilliam saying he was too dangerous to liberate, and his critics maintaining that he only wanted to be bribed. The wretched chief, who was old and infirm, was released by Sir William Russell, but died soon after.[187]

O’Donnell politics.

Fitzwilliam, who went from Donegal to Strabane, made Donnell O’Donnell sheriff. He was O’Donnell’s eldest son by an Irish wife or mistress, and it was supposed that he would do good service against the Scotch party, who thirsted for his blood. It was hoped that Tyrone would help to get the promised rent from Tyrconnell, but he contented himself with entertaining the army sumptuously at Dungannon, and he afterwards made the treatment of Sir John O’Gallagher one of his principal grievances. The redoubtable Ineen soon afterwards burned down her husband’s house at Donegal, lest it should serve to shelter a garrison, and at the same time her son Hugh, who was a prisoner at Dublin Castle, was betrothed to the Earl’s daughter. The Lord Deputy’s journey to the North had no results of importance, but he could boast of not losing one man in seven weeks.[188]

[Pg 198]

The Desmond forfeitures.
Opposition to the undertakers.

In order to clear up some of the claims made upon the forfeited Desmond estates, it was thought wise to send over no less a person than Chief Justice Anderson. His law could not be gainsaid, and he was not likely to err on the side of leniency. The English lawyers joined in commission with him were Sir Robert Gardiner, Chief Justice of Ireland, Thomas Gent, Baron of the Exchequer in England, and Jesse Smythe, Chief Justice of Munster; and upon these four fell the principal part of the work. Of eighty-two claims only one was allowed, a conveyance from Desmond being produced in that case, of a date prior to his first treasonable act. In the absence of such proof, the Queen was held to be seised in fee of all the Earl’s estate. The materials exist for a detailed account of the Munster settlement, but they are more properly available for histories of Cork, Kerry, Limerick, and Waterford than for that of Ireland. One of the suitors aggrieved by the decision of the commissioners was Lord Roche, and his case is especially interesting because of its connection with Spenser. He made seven distinct claims, and on the first being dismissed, because he had ‘sinisterly seduced’ the witnesses, he refused to proceed with the others, and threatened to complain to the Queen, whereupon the commissioners sent him to gaol. The imprisonment was short, but he declared that one of the undertakers had shot an arrow at him, professed to be in fear of his life, and begged Ormonde to lend him some house on the Suir, where he might be safe for a time. In the meantime he managed to make the country very unsafe for some other people.


Spenser had Kilcolman and 4,000 acres allotted to him, but he complained that the area was really much less. Less or more, he was not allowed to dwell in peace, and his chief enemy was Lord Roche, who accused him of intruding on his lands, and using violence to his tenants, servants, and cattle. The poet retorted that the peer entertained traitors, imprisoned subjects, brought the law into contempt, and forbade all his people to have any dealings with Mr. Spenser and his tenants. An English settler named Keate asked[Pg 199] Morris MacShane, one of Lord Roche’s men, why he had no fear of God; and it was sworn that he answered, ‘he feared not God, for he had no cause; but he feared his Lord, who had punished him before and would have his goods.’ Lord Roche was charged with many outrages, such as killing a bullock belonging to a smith who mended a settler’s plough, seizing the cows of another for renting land from the owner of this plough, and killing a fat beast belonging to a third, ‘because Mr. Spenser lay in his house one night as he came from the sessions at Limerick.’ Ultimately the poet’s estate was surveyed as 3,028 acres at a rent of 8l. 13s. 9d., which was doubled at Michaelmas 1594, making it about five farthings per acre. Spenser maintained himself at Kilcolman until 1598, when the undertakers were involved in general ruin. Troubles with Lord Roche continued to the end, and it may be doubted whether even the happy marriage which inspired his finest verses ever reconciled him to what he has himself described as—

My luckless lot
That banished had myself, like wight forlore,
Into that waste, where I was quite forgot.
Fatal defects of the settlement.

Raleigh, whose society was one of Spenser’s few pleasures in Munster, settled a very large number of English families upon his great estate in Cork and Waterford. Passing afterwards into Boyle’s skilful hands, this settlement became of the greatest importance, but it was overrun like the rest in 1598. Ten years before the crash came, Raleigh could see that Thomas of Desmond and his son James were dangerous neighbours. Sir Richard Grenville and Fane Beecher had the whole barony of Kinalmeaky between them, and at the end of 1589 there were only six Englishmen there, upon land estimated at 24,000 acres. The hero of Flores had a very poor opinion of the prospect unless questions which proved insoluble could be speedily settled, and the English settlers found their position everywhere very disagreeable. Grenville and St. Leger planted a considerable number in the district immediately south of Cork, and Arthur Hyde did pretty well on the Blackwater; but, as a rule, the newcomers were greatly[Pg 200] outnumbered by the natives. Nor can it be doubted that many returned to England when they found that Munster was not Eldorado. Irish tenants were easily got to replace them, and even to pay rents to the undertakers until it was possible to cut their throats. When the day of trial came, the remaining settlers were easily disposed of; they cried, and there was none to help them.[189]

The Clancarty heiress;
secretly married to Florence MacCarthy.

Among other devices for balancing the Desmond power in Munster, Elizabeth had made Donnell MacCarthy More Earl of Clancare, and Shane O’Neill had spoken very sarcastically of this attempt to turn a foolish chief into a ‘wise earl.’ His only legitimate son ran away to France, where he died, and all hereditary rights were then vested in his daughter Ellen, who became an important figure in the eyes of English and Irish fortune-hunters. It appears that Clancare sold his daughter to Sir Valentine Browne as a wife for his son Nicholas, Sir Thomas Norris having first given up the idea of wooing her. Sir Valentine was a mortgagee, for the earl had wasted his substance in riotous living, and in the hands of a family of undertakers and land-surveyors every claim of that sort would have its full value. In the eyes of the MacCarthies and of the heiress’s mother, who was a Desmond, the proposed match was a disparagement, and early in 1589 a private marriage was celebrated between Lady Ellen and Florence MacCarthy, who had probably come from London on purpose. Sir Nicholas Browne afterwards married a daughter of O’Sullivan Bere. The heiress does not seem to have been much consulted, and a marriage which began so romantically was not in the end even moderately happy. In 1599 she distrusted her husband, who called her ‘foolish and froward,’ and not long afterwards she was practically a spy upon his actions.

[Pg 201]

Mac Carthy politics.
Florence and Donnell MacCarthy.

Florence was Tanist of Carbery, which had passed to his uncle, and the result of his runaway match would be to unite the territories of MacCarthy Reagh and MacCarthy More in one hand. Now that the Desmonds were gone, a MacCarthy on this scale would be the strongest man in Munster. To break up these great estates was a fixed object with the English Government, and Florence was sent as prisoner to England, where he remained for several years. His wife escaped from Cork, hid for a long time among her people, and then joined her husband in London. The clans generally acknowledged him as MacCarthy More, but there was another claimant in the person of Clancare’s illegitimate son Donnell, who had many friends among the people, and who was probably his father’s favourite. A peaceable inhabitant was murdered by this spirited young man, whom he had ventured to reprove for his Irish extortions, and who supported himself and his band of followers by promiscuous robbery. ‘It is thought,’ said St. Leger, ‘that this detestable murder was committed by the Earl’s consent, for that the party murdered would not relieve him with money, to bear out his drunken charges at Dublin.’ Florence, on the contrary, was a scholar, and a man who, notwithstanding his gigantic stature, used his pen more readily than his sword. His accomplishments, and the very hard treatment he received, have made him interesting, but there was nothing heroic about him. He was an astute Irishman, and while English writers could rightly accuse him of treasonable practices, his rival Donnell, called him ‘a damned counterfeit Englishman, whose only study and practice was to deceive and betray all the Irish in Ireland.’[190]

Fitzwilliam and the MacMahons.

In June 1589 Sir Ross MacMahon, chief of Monaghan, died without heirs male. He held of the Queen by letters patent, and was regarded as MacMahon, and also as feudal grantee of the whole country, except the districts comprised in the modern barony of Farney, which had been granted to[Pg 202] Walter, Earl of Essex. He was liable to a rent of 400 beeves and to certain services. His brother Hugh Roe at once claimed his inheritance. Fitzwilliam’s great object was to break up these principal chiefries into moderate estates, and he thought this a good opportunity. Brian MacHugh Oge also claimed to be MacMahon, but upon purely Celtic grounds, and very much upon the strength of 500 or 600 armed men whom he found means to pay. Fitzwilliam persuaded Hugh Roe that he had not much chance of success, and brought him to agree to a division, but his kinsmen refused, since each gentleman of the name claimed to be the MacMahon himself. Fitzwilliam then acknowledged Hugh Roe as chief, and sent him 400 foot and 40 horse. Brian MacHugh was in possession of Leck Hill and of the stone upon which MacMahons were inaugurated, and was supported by Tyrone and by Hugh Maguire, who had just become chief of Fermanagh upon the death of his father Cuconnaught. On the approach of the Queen’s troops he fled into O’Rourke’s country, and left Hugh Roe in possession. Returning a few days later with help from O’Rourke or Maguire, he drove his rival from Clones, and killed a few soldiers, but without coming into collision with the main body. Hugh Roe did, however, maintain himself, but soon showed that he had no intention of abandoning native customs. He rescued prisoners from the sheriff of Monaghan, drove cattle in Farney, burned houses, and behaved himself generally like a spirited Irish chieftain. These offences legally involved a forfeiture of his patent, and Fitzwilliam found means to arrest him. Tyrone looked upon the cattle-stealing merely as ‘distraining for his right according to custom,’ but Fitzwilliam saw another chance of effecting the much desired partition. The Queen was inclined to think that MacMahon had committed nothing more than ‘such march offences as are ever ordinarily committed in that realm,’ that great caution should be used in punishing a man who undoubtedly depended on the Crown, and that Brian MacHugh in particular was not to be preferred. In the end Hugh Roe was tried and executed at Monaghan. In 1591 the country, with the exception of Farney, was divided between[Pg 203] six MacMahons and MacKenna, the chief of Trough. The rent reserved to the Queen was 7s. 6d. for every sixty acres. An ample demesne was assigned to each, and those holding land under them, at a rent of 12s. 6d. for every sixty acres, were called freeholders. A seneschal was appointed to represent the Crown. Brian MacHugh was established in Dartrey, and Ever MacCoolie in Cremorne. The church-lands, and only the church-lands, were leased to private speculators, but the settlement was not destined to remain unquestioned.

Charge of corruption.

Fitzwilliam has been accused of acting corruptly in this matter; but such charges were matters of course, and his own strong denial ought to prevail, since there is no evidence against him. ‘I did it,’ he said, ‘to the profit of her Majesty and good of this State, nothing regarding mine own private; I speak it in the presence of God, by whom I hope to be saved... if ever there were such a motion or meaning for me, or for any of mine, let God wipe us all out of his book.’[191]

Bingham in Connaught.
Jones Bishop of Meath.

Bingham had treated the Spaniards very severely, as well as those who harboured them. The consequence of allowing them to draw together on Irish soil would have been serious, and in Walsingham’s eyes at least he had done no more than his duty. But the chiefs who already hated him now hated him worse than ever, and when the danger was over plenty of Englishmen were ready to censure his proceedings. Among them was Thomas Jones, Bishop of Meath, and afterwards Archbishop of Dublin, a Lancashire man, who had been admitted to the Council at the same time as Bingham, in accordance with the Queen’s instructions to Sir John Perrott, and who had afterwards been sharply rebuked by her for proposing severe measures against recusants, and for openly and without notice blaming that Deputy’s remissness in the matter. He now gave out that Ustian MacDonnell, a noted leader of gallowglasses, had been unadvisedly executed by[Pg 204] the Governor of Connaught. Bingham replied that the court-martial was quite regular, and the sentence just. He had, he said, ‘never a foot of land in the world as his own, nor yet anything else, and had always been the worst man in all these parts of his time.’ The chief charge against him was that of combining with the Devil’s Hook’s son and other Burkes to receive Alonso de Leyva when he was driven upon the Erris shore, and for preventing the country people from supplying the troops, while they readily gave their cattle to the Spaniards. The Bishop of Meath, with John Garvey, Bishop of Kilmore, a Kilkenny man, who was immediately afterwards translated to Armagh, the veteran Sir Nicholas White, Sir Robert Dillon, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and Sir Thomas Lestrange, were appointed commissioners for the pacification of Connaught. They may have let their hostility to Bingham be known, or—as was so often the case—their mere presence seemed to show that he was distrusted. The result was not satisfactory, for they found the Mayo Burkes in open rebellion, and they left them in no better case. White thought these people desired peace, and that it was prevented by a revengeful disposition in some of his colleagues to lay all the blame on Bingham.[192]

Murder of John Browne in Mayo.

John Browne, the founder of a great Connaught family, had been in the service of Sir Christopher Hatton, and was attached politically to Walsingham. He arrived in Ireland in 1583, and Sir Nicholas Maltby appears to have been his first patron there. His original project, in which he was associated with Robert Fowle and others, was to rebuild and people the deserted town of Athenry; but this proved impracticable, and at a hint from Walsingham, the adventurers took all Connaught for their province. Browne established himself at the Neale, near Ballinrobe, and prided himself on being the first Englishman who had settled in Mayo. When Bingham came into Maltby’s room, he recognised a congenial spirit, and in 1586 Browne was employed by him with much effect against the Burkes and Joyces. In 1589 he received[Pg 205] a commission to harry the Burkes and all their maintainers with fire and sword, and a few days afterwards they killed him. Daniel Daly, sub-sheriff of Mayo, who was also employed by Bingham, was murdered at the same time.[193]

Bingham and the Mayo Burkes.
A rebellion.

The reason or pretext given for their rebellion by the chiefs of Western Connaught was that Bingham’s tyranny was intolerable. They declared that they had paid for protections which proved no protection, and for pardons which were not regarded, and that they never would be quiet until there was a radical change. It is always very hard to decide whether complaints such as these were really genuine and well-founded, or whether the mischief was mainly caused by the jealousy of chiefs who saw their authority disregarded, and their power of levying endless exactions curtailed. They spoke of liberty, but most Englishmen considered that they only wanted licence to oppress. Their power to give trouble was at least not doubtful. William Burke, called the Blind Abbot, was chief of the Lower Burkes, and aspired to be MacWilliam Iochtar. Another leader was Richard MacRickard, called the Devil’s Hook, or the Demon of the Reaping-hook. 400 of the Clandonnel gallowglasses joined the Burkes. Sir Morrogh ne Doe O’Flaherty dismantled his castles in Galway, ferried 600 men over Lough Corrib, and entered Mayo in company with his neighbours, the Joyces. The outbreak had been a long time hatching, and was violent in proportion. Sixteen villages were burned, and 3,000 cattle driven away. All who were not with the insurgents were held to be against them, and peaceable husbandmen had a bad time of it. One housewife was called upon to feed 100 men, and particularly observed that they gave her no thanks. In another poor dwelling six barrels of ale were drunk or spoiled, and the owner was threatened with personal violence.[Pg 206] It was Lent, but a Spanish priest who was with O’Flaherty, gave them all absolution for eating flesh, and there was much feasting at other people’s expense. Sir Morrogh was fond of money, and a promise of 500l. was supposed to have reconciled him to the probable execution of his son, who was a hostage for his good behaviour. On the whole, the number of men in rebellion was thought not to fall short of 200, and they had some pieces of ordnance and stores taken from three ships of the Armada. There were about twenty Spaniards with them, who did not at all relish the conditions of Irish warfare.[194]

Royal Commission in Connaught.

Bishop Jones and his fellow-commissioners came to Athlone on April 11, about three months after the murder of Browne. The O’Flaherties had in the meantime been very thoroughly beaten by Lieutenant Francis Bingham and other officers, assisted by Gerald Comerford, the martial attorney-general for Connaught. They lost something like 200 men, while only one soldier fell. Bishop Garvey was sent first into Mayo, while Jones and his other colleagues went straight to Galway. Sir Murrogh refused to come into the town without a protection, and this the mayor refused to grant in opposition to Comerford, lest Bingham should take him nevertheless, and so destroy the credit of the corporation. Sir Richard was at little pains to hide his dislike of the whole inquiry. The Bishop of Meath laid down the principle—and with this at least it is impossible not to agree—that loyal men should keep their words, no matter how much rebels broke theirs. ‘What!’ said Bingham, ‘would you have us keep our words with those which have no conscience, but break their word daily? I am not of that opinion.’ Chief Justice Dillon’s reading of his commission was that he was to make peace; Sir Richard commanded the troops, and might fight if he pleased. Bingham said he would hold his hand until the commissioners had done their best, or worst, and he let them see that he had no belief in their doings. The Bishop of Kilmore succeeded in bringing the leaders of the Burkes to Galway; and the[Pg 207] Blind Abbot, as soon as he came within sight, held out the commission which had been found on Browne’s person at the time of his murder, and declared he would send it to the Queen. The knowledge that this document existed, said another Burke, was the real cause of the crime.[195]

Bingham too strong for the commissioners,
who become ridiculous.

Bingham was at Galway during the visit of the commissioners, though he did not conceal his disgust, and he had a considerable force with him. He declared that soldiers were necessary for the safety of the commissioners, and perhaps they were; but their presence brought danger of another sort. In the town the governor had many enemies and the rebels many friends, and brawls took place between them and some of Bingham’s men, who were probably indignant at the treatment of a chief whom they trusted, and who habitually led them to victory. ‘Nay, sirs,’ said Sir Richard to two of the Burkes who were stating their grievances, ‘would you not be clean rid of a sheriff, or would you not have a MacWilliam established among you?’ The commissioners professed themselves unable to detect any such intention, but the event showed that Bingham was right. Sir Morrogh O’Flaherty and the Blind Abbot refused altogether to come into Bingham’s presence, and the commissioners agreed to meet them outside the town. The trysting-place was an abbey beyond the river, probably the dissolved friary of the Dominicans, and Bingham blamed the commissioners for trusting themselves in a place where violence was easy, while some of his followers illustrated this opinion in a very curious way. Two men, dressed like nuns, or at least like women with ‘mantles and caps,’ and a third in a black gown, which may have been intended to represent the garb of St. Dominic, passed through the church while the commissioners were in the choir. ‘Let us go and tarry no longer,’ said Jones, ‘for I see they do begin to mock us already,’ and accordingly they regained their boat and went back to the town. The masqueraders, who were joined by others, took their place in the choir and went through the farce of a parley. Afterwards[Pg 208] they paraded the streets, ‘I am the Bishop of Meath,’ said one. Another said, ‘I am the Justice Dillon; reverence for the Queen’s Commissioners,’ and so on. In the end, after several abortive discussions, Jones and his colleagues left Galway without concluding peace. It is evident that Bingham’s discontented subjects distrusted each other quite as much as they did him. Sir Morrogh O’Flaherty was ready to make separate terms for himself, and the Burkes feared to promise anything, lest others should take advantage of them. Bingham’s hands were untied, and he proceeded to restore order in his own way.[196]

O’Connor Sligo’s case.
Bingham defeats his claim.

Sir Donnell O’Connor of Sligo had surrendered his possessions to the Queen and taken out a fresh grant with remainder to the heirs male of his father. The castle and Dominican friary were originally founded by the Kildare family, and the O’Connors were technically their constables; but attainders intervened, and the claim was too antiquated to weigh much with Elizabethan statesmen. Sir Donnell died about the beginning of 1588, and his nephew Donough claimed to succeed him. According to Bingham, both Donough and his father Cahil Oge were illegitimate, and he was anxious to have the castle of Sligo in safe hands, because it commanded the passage from Ulster into Connaught. Donough, who was attached to Leicester, declared that the governor’s real object was to get all for his brother George; but Bingham’s proposal was that the barony of Carbury, on account of its strategic importance, should be retained for the Queen, and that all O’Connor Sligo’s lands in the neighbouring districts should be regranted to Donough. A commission, consisting of the Bishop of Meath, Sir Robert Dillon, and others, was appointed by Perrott to inquire into the matter, and they decided in favour of Donough. Bingham declared that they were quite wrong, and that he gave up Sligo under compulsion, for fear of disobeying the Lord Deputy, and in plain defiance of the Queen’s real interest. After Perrott’s departure from Ireland a[Pg 209] further inquiry into Donough’s title was made, the commissioners being Bingham himself, with Chief Justice Sir Robert Gardiner and Mr. Justice Walshe. The jurors were substantial men, but it was alleged that Bingham had taken one of them by the beard, and threatened to punish him as a traitor if he persisted in finding Donough legitimate. After five days a verdict was obtained for the Crown, and the Chief Justice particularly stated that the trial was impartial, that all O’Connor’s challenges were allowed, and that Bingham did not use a harsh word to any witness or juror. Sligo remained in safe hands during the time the Armada was on the coast. Walsingham wrote a stinging rebuke to Bishop Jones for his corrupt conduct in the matter, and for his malice to Bingham. ‘It was told me at what time you were in England that I should in the end find you a hypocrite. And what better reckoning can I make of you... this practice of yours, though not by Sir Richard Bingham, is sufficiently discovered already from Ireland, and the gentleman I doubt not will stand upright there, in despite of all your malice.’ Others accused Jones of acting entirely under Dillon’s guidance, and the latter of receiving bribes. William Nugent, the ex-rebel of the Pale, said that he received 100 cows for making a false record.[197]

Walsingham supports Bingham.

Bishop Jones was profuse in apologies both to Walsingham and Burghley; and, though Swift calls him a rascal, there is no proof that he acted corruptly in the matter, while it might not be safe to say as much of Sir Robert Dillon. On June 10, Fitzwilliam himself arrived at Galway, whence Bingham departed at his urgent request, and on the following day the Blind Abbot and Sir Murrogh ne Doe O’Flaherty made their submissions openly in the church of St. Nicholas, and remained on their knees for nearly three-quarters of an hour. The Lord Deputy received a statement of their grievances in[Pg 210] writing, and lost no time in advising Burghley that he thought they would never trust their lives under Bingham’s government. A few days later, Sir Richard told Walsingham that Fitzwilliam only impoverished Connaught by the cost of his train, that he had done nothing in three weeks, and that the province was a prey to rebels whom he, the governor, was forbidden to chastise. Hostages had been given, Archbishop Garvey’s eldest son among them, for the chiefs lately received on submission—‘a couple of doating old fools,’ who were amply protected by the garrison. O’Rourke was the real head of the rebellion, and he was shielded by the spite of Jones and the corruption of Dillon. The Queen’s representatives, he added, had, in fact, sued for peace, and it was not worth having, for the other parties were beggars and wretches. The terms were that the chiefs should disperse their forces and go home, that they should surrender any foreigners among them, that they should make such reparation for their rebellion as the Lord Deputy should appoint, and that they should pay for all the harm they had done since the first appointment of the Commissioners.[198]

The attack on Bingham fails.
The O’Flaherties.

Fitzwilliam refused to let Bingham confront his accusers at Galway, lest the terror of his presence should silence them. The result was that their uncontradicted statements were sent over to England, and Walsingham’s wrath was hot within him. The unfairness of the procedure was evident, the reason for it much less so. ‘It may fall out, my Lord Deputy, to be your own case, for it is no new thing in that realm to have deputies accused.’ Considering Walsingham’s evident prejudice against him, Fitzwilliam suggested that the Queen should give him a successor. The trial of the case was removed to Dublin; and the Lord Deputy foretold that no Connaught chief would go there to accuse Bingham. If fear did not prevent such a journey, poverty would. And so it turned out. Much was proved against inferior officers, and there can be no doubt that the Governor of Connaught was[Pg 211] apt to shield useful underlings under almost any circumstances. That he was guilty of extreme severity, and that he executed children who were retained as hostages, is probably true. But he managed the province well, and got a large revenue out of it. And it is certain that he had friends among the Irish as well as enemies. Among these was Roger O’Flaherty, grandfather of the author of Ogygia. This Roger owned the castle and lands of Moycullen, and had long complained of Sir Murrogh’s usurpations. It seems that he was satisfied, for he wrote strongly in the Governor’s favour, who also befriended him with the English Government. Sir Murrogh was an enterprising man, and never made the impossible attempt to prove his title to land. ‘Why, man,’ he told his own counsel, ‘I got it by the sword; what title should I say else?’ Bingham was an absolute ruler. Opposition he checked ruthlessly, and he cared little for constitutional forms. He took no pains to conciliate anyone, and was of course accused of provoking men to rebel. Nor did he care to disguise his opinion that many of the Irish ought to be rooted out. Perhaps the worst charge against him is that made by Fitzwilliam, who called him an atheist, ‘for that he careth not what he doeth, nor to say anything how untrue soever, so it may serve his turn.’[199]

Bingham and Bishop Jones.

Fitzwilliam and Jones acknowledged that William Burke, the Blind Abbot, was a fool, and on the whole the person who suffered most from the inquiry into Bingham’s conduct was the Bishop of Meath. Sir Richard said his lordship blamed intemperate language, while he himself exclaimed at cards, ‘God’s wounds! play the ten of hearts.’ He was so busy preparing a case against him that he found no time to preach once during the three weeks that he spent at Galway,[Pg 212] though he would go to church in the morning to hear an exercise and again in the afternoon to hear a play. He was superseded in the Connaught commission, and Walsingham rebuked him for not attending to his own proper duties. The Bishop’s apology was almost abject, and he promised to give up temporal business. He had, he said, not neglected his own diocese, though thinking it unnecessary to preach in Dublin more than once a term. Fitzwilliam defended him, and he was employed again during Walsingham’s life, but not in business connected with Connaught. Loftus, whose wife’s sister he had married, considered him as one of his own family, and urged that the Papists had taken great advantage of the Bishop’s disgrace.[200]

Sir Brian O’Rourke.

The composition in Connaught had been favourable to the power of Sir Brian O’Rourke, the chief of Leitrim. Nominally, his jurisdiction over the people of his country was restrained; but so large a share of land was given to him absolutely that he found himself stronger than ever, and refused to acknowledge the Governor of Connaught, maintaining that he was under no man except the Lord Deputy himself. In the original scheme for shireing Leitrim made in 1583 a considerable part of Fermanagh was included, but the arrangement did not hold for the purposes of the composition agreed upon two years later. O’Rourke’s country, as then defined, is contained within the modern county of Leitrim. Its contents were roughly estimated at some 75,000 acres. Of this nominal area more than 8,000 acres were allowed to O’Rourke in demesne. Out of about 50,000 more he was permitted to receive a rent of 300l. a year, and the rest he was to hold by three knights’ fees. The smaller freeholders were required to pay ten shillings a year out of each quarter of 120 acres, and to supply eight horsemen and forty footmen on general hostings. Old MacMurry, one of these subordinate chiefs, wept with joy[Pg 213] and blessed the good Queen. ‘We have,’ he said, ‘heretofore paid O’Rourke better than ten marks, or a quarter; and shall we indeed escape now for a trifle of twenty shillings!’ But O’Rourke refused to pay his rent to Bingham, and was friendly to the intruding Scots. After their overthrow at Ardnaree it was no longer possible to despise the Governor, but O’Rourke persuaded Perrott to remit part of what he owed, and it was not until after that Deputy’s departure that Bingham found himself really master. When the Spaniards came, Sir Brian did what he could to help them, and his rent was soon again in arrear. The King of Spain sent a friar with letters of thanks for his services to the Armada, and early in 1589 he was reported to be in open rebellion, and to be acting under the secret advice of Tyrone. His sons and brothers, with more than 400 men, swept the northern part of Sligo to the Moy, and drove off 3,000 cows and 1,000 mares. O’Rourke kept so many armed men among the bogs and hills of Leitrim that it was said he could not feed them without spoiling a neighbouring county.[201]

O’Rourke defies the Queen.

O’Rourke had struggled hard to prevent a sheriff from being established in his country, and it was natural that he should wish to retain his autonomy. But his unwillingness to obey any authority lay much deeper than any mere dislike to Sir Richard Bingham. About a month after the slaughter of the Scots at Ardnaree in 1586 the Serjeant-at-arms for Connaught saw a wooden figure of a woman set on wheels near MacClancy’s house on Lough Melvin. The bystanders told him it was meant for a hag who lived over the water, and who had denied a carpenter milk. This seems to have been the same effigy as that on which O’Rourke caused the words ‘Queen Elizabeth’ to be written, and upon which he showered abuse, while the gallowglasses[Pg 214] hacked it with their axes. A halter was placed round the neck of the mutilated figure, and it was then dragged through the dirt by horses. This was an incident in the Christmas festivities which Sir Brian kept ‘according the Romish and Popish computation’—that is the Gregorian calendar—and he took the opportunity of announcing that her Majesty was ‘the mother and nurse of all heresies and heretics.’ Bingham did not hear of the matter until after his return from the Low Countries; but it was reported to Perrott, and his refusal to order O’Rourke’s arrest was brought against him at his trial.[202]

Fitzwilliam gives Bingham his way.

Sir Brian O’Rourke was lawfully married to Lady Mary Burke, and her only son Teig had a grant of the family estates in the next reign. But he had an elder son by the wife of John O’Crean, a merchant of Sligo, and it was to him that the chiefry was likely to fall. The work of chastising O’Rourke was entrusted by Bingham to Clanricarde, and it seems to have been a labour of love, either because the Earl resented wrongs done to his sister, or because he hated her former misdeeds, or because he felt that his nephew’s case had some resemblance to what his own had been. With thirty horsemen and some kerne of his own, and two regular companies, he set out from Elphin and marched to Ballinafad, where news came that O’Rourke was at his house near Lough Gill. Clanricarde asked Captain Mordaunt if his soldiers could go another fourteen miles the same night, and was told that they would do their best. The daylight overtook them at some distance from O’Rourke’s house, and they had to fight after their long night’s march. The O’Rourkes fell back into a bog, and Clanricarde insisted on following them with his horse. He was dismounted, and a spur torn from his heel. The bullets flew thickly about him, and Mordaunt’s men came up only just in time, his gallantry exciting the admiration of the English officers. O’Rourke was never able to make head again, but he probably fancied himself safe in his own country.[Pg 215] When the Lord Deputy held sessions at Sligo a few months later, he refused to attend, on the ground that the Binghams had something to do with them. The result was that Fitzwilliam accepted Bingham’s policy as against O’Rourke, though he was always ready, and often with very good reason, to testify against the Governor’s harshness and against the tyranny of his brothers, cousins, and followers.[203]

Bingham subdues the Burkes.

While it was still uncertain whether Bingham or his enemies would get the upper hand, the Burkes continued in rebellion. They went about in bands of 500 or 600, openly celebrated the Mass, and robbed all who were not with them. The Blind Abbot was made MacWilliam, with all the ancient ceremonies, and in virtue of his office he proceeded to assault and capture a castle garrisoned by Attorney-General Comerford’s men. When Bingham had gained his cause in Dublin, it became evident that his policy must prevail; and a letter from the Queen herself, whom the creation of a MacWilliam touched in her tenderest point, probably decided Fitzwilliam’s course. He made arrangements to have a strong force at Galway, and went there himself, to make a last effort for peace. Sir Murrogh ne Doe came in, but failed to find acceptable pledges, and was lodged in gaol. The Burkes did not appear, and some thought their contumacy was caused by the wording of the proclamation, which gave safe conduct to come, but not to return. It may be remembered that no less a personage than Shane O’Neill had been detained in virtue of a quibble of this kind. At all events the time of grace was allowed to pass, and Bingham went to work in earnest. With about 1,000 men, of whom more than three-quarters were regular soldiers, he swept Tyrawley from end to end. Only once, in a defile of the Nephin range, did the rebels make a stand, and they burned their own villages without waiting to be attacked. The poor MacWilliam had cause to rue his blushing honours, for he had a foot cut off by one of Thomond’s soldiers, with a single blow of his sword. That Earl marched[Pg 216] on foot through the mountains, and Clanricarde was also very active. The wounded chief lay for several days, without meat or drink, in an island in Lough Conn, and was afterwards drawn on a hurdle from place to place, to seek the alms of his clansmen. ‘It is not,’ said Bingham, ‘a halfpenny matter what becomes of him now.’ The Burkes all submitted, on Sir Richard’s own terms, and peace was concluded with them.[204]

O’Rourke is expelled,
surrendered by James VI.,
and hanged.

O’Rourke’s turn had now come. He may have supposed that his country was unassailable, but was quickly undeceived. Bingham had no doubt about being able to subdue him in ten days, but refused to move without written orders from the Lord Deputy, lest he might be disavowed afterwards. The order was given, and the Governor, who was suffering from dysentery, sent four divisions of soldiers into Leitrim under his brother George and Sir Henry Duke. Some malcontent O’Rourkes helped the English, and much damage was done. The mere presence of so large a force was enough to exhaust the district, and the subordinate chiefs were glad to make their peace, and perhaps glad to free themselves from O’Rourke, who fled to the MacSwineys in Donegal. Cuellar’s friend MacClancy was hunted down, and killed as he tried to swim to one of his islands. He had still fourteen Spaniards with him, and some of these were taken alive. O’Rourke remained during the rest of the year in Donegal, and then escaped to Scotland, but James gave him up to the English Government. In thanking her dear brother for this, Elizabeth wondered how his ‘subjects of Glasgow should doubt the stop of their traffic for so poor a caitiff, who was never of ability to make or give traffic.’ In London O’Rourke justified Sidney’s assertion as to his being the proudest man he had ever dealt with, for he demanded that the Queen herself should judge him. His refusal to surrender Spaniards after the proclamation was treason, and he was told the indictment was sufficient if he refused to plead. ‘If it must be so,’ he[Pg 217] said, ‘let it be so,’ and he was accordingly condemned and hanged at Tyburn, with all the usual barbarities. He was attended on the scaffold by Miler Magrath, but refused his ministrations and upbraided the old Franciscan as an apostate. He had previously refused to bend the knee before the Council. ‘I have always thought,’ he said, ‘that a great distance separated you from God and the Saints, whose images alone I am accustomed to venerate.’[205]

Mutiny in Dublin.

Experience had shown the many evils of an ill-paid soldiery, but efforts at reform were not always wisely directed. New-comers and raw levies were sometimes better treated than the old garrison. Those whose services were yet to come got all the available money, while veterans, ‘who passed all the soldiers in Europe in the travel and hard diet they had endured,’ had to put up with scanty and irregular payments on account. Old soldiers saw their boys receive a shilling a day in punctual weekly payments while their own sevenpence was often in arrear. In May 1590, in the absence of their commander and without the knowledge of their officers, Sir Thomas Norris’s company of foot suddenly left Limerick, and appeared in Dublin with drums and fifes playing. At eight in the morning they assembled on the bridge at the Castle gate, and clamoured for their pay and allowances, many months in arrear. Fitzwilliam, whose passage was obstructed by them, at first thought of a whiff of grape-shot, but changed his mind, and sallied forth among the mutineers. Sir George Carew bore the sword before him. ‘Rather than let it go,’ said Archbishop Loftus, ‘your lordship may be sure he will do as the Mayor of London did[Pg 218].’ The services of a Walworth were not required, and, indeed, the poor soldiers seem to have had no evil intentions. They besought Fitzwilliam to be good to them, and only one man used some offensive expression. The Lord Deputy turned his horse upon him, calling him baggage and mutinous knave, and drew his blade when the man held up his piece in self-defence. Gentlemen and servants streamed out of the Castle and drew their swords, and Fitzwilliam cried out, ‘Disarm these villains!’ They made no resistance, but fell upon their knees, and sixty-one out of seventy-seven were imprisoned. Many of the arms were stolen in the confusion. Fitzwilliam soon pardoned the mutineers, and sent them back to Munster. ‘The choler,’ says Carew, ‘that his lordship was in was very exceeding abundant, yet so tempered that any man might discern that his valour did appear unspotted either with fear or cruelty, for he thrust himself into the midst of them all without respect of his person, and struck many with the flat of his rapier, yet hurt none saving one of them a little in the head, and holding the point of it at sundry of their breasts, forebore to thrust any of them into the body.’[206]

Tyrone and Tirlogh Luineach.
Tyrone hangs one of Shane O’Neill’s sons,
and aims at supremacy in Ulster.

The part of Tyrone lying north and west of the Mullaghcarne mountains had been retained by Tirlogh Luineach in 1585, when he agreed to take 1,000 marks a year for the rest. The lease was for seven years, but O’Neill had reserved and wished to exercise the power of taking back the territory in three, which expired at Michaelmas 1588. Fitzwilliam, who had a strong bias in the Earl’s favour, obtained the remaining four years for him, but on condition of paying 300 fat beeves a year in addition to the rent. The two chiefs continued nevertheless to quarrel, and it is curious to note how the English officials sided with Tyrone. The mere fact that he represented the settlement by patent was enough for many of them, and they did not see the danger of making[Pg 219] him supreme in the North. Shane O’Neill’s sons were giving trouble, and the ghost seemed more terrible than the reality. Con MacShane had long been a prisoner with Tirlogh Luineach, but was now released and taken into his confidence. A brother, Hugh Gavelagh, who had been two years in Scotland, now returned to Ulster, and was supposed to have incurred Tyrone’s enmity by giving information to the Government. He had promised Perrott to bring over no Scots, and he kept his word; but it was known that he might have plenty if he wished, and his popularity in the North was very great. Hugh Gavelagh was seized by some of the Maguires, sold to Tyrone, and by him hanged on a thorn-tree, and it was reported all over Ireland that the Earl could find no executioner, and had to do the business himself. This he denied, giving the names of the actual operators, and defending his conduct strenuously. Hugh Gavelagh, he said, had murdered many men, women, and children, and there was no regular law in Ulster, ‘but certain customs ... and I hope her Majesty will consider that, as her Highness’s lieutenant under the Deputy (as I take myself within my own territory), I am bound to do justice upon thieves and murderers; otherwise, if I be restrained from such-like executions, and liberty left to O’Neill, O’Donnell, and others to use their ancient customs, then should I not be able to defend my country from their violence and wrongs.’ In this sentence we have the whole difficulty of Tudor rule in Ireland briefly expressed. The Government was not strong enough to enforce equal justice, and practically confessed its impotence by allowing authority to lapse into the hands of Tyrone and such as he. From Fitzwilliam downwards, nearly all the officials seemed to think that they could keep things quiet by strengthening a man who aimed at being O’Neill in the fullest sense of the word, but who was quite ready to play at being an earl when it suited him, and to remember his English education. Walsingham saw more clearly from a distance, and wished to make Tirlogh Luineach Earl of Omagh, with an estate of inheritance in his part of Tyrone, and with a superiority over O’Cahan for[Pg 220] life. To his rival he was willing to give the rest, including a perpetual superiority over Maguire. But Tyrone was determined to have all, and the men immediately responsible for order found it convenient to support the younger, the abler, and, as it turned out, the more ambitious and dangerous man.[207]

Rival O’Neills.
The MacShanes.

In order to understand the history of Ulster during the last decade of Queen Elizabeth, it may be well to define the position of parties there just before Tyrone entered upon his last struggle. Besides the Earl himself, who was for a long time looked upon as the representative of English ideas, and who was probably not an O’Neill at all, there were three families who claimed to be at the head of the ruling race. Tirlogh Brasselagh, Shane O’Neill’s uncle, claimed to be the eldest of the house, and, according to ancient Celtic notions, he had perhaps the best right. His lands lay to the south of Lough Neagh, and he had many sons; but his party was, on the whole, the weakest. Tirlogh Luineach, the actual chief, represented the family of Art Oge, who had long been excluded from the supremacy, and he was thought to hold his position more by force and policy than by right. His eldest son, Sir Arthur, seems not to have been legitimate, but was fully acknowledged as his heir male both by Tyrone and by the Government: his influence was greatest in what are now the baronies of Strabane. The third set of pretenders were Shane O’Neill’s seven sons, known as the MacShanes. Their legitimacy is not worth discussing; but they were favourites with the Irish, and by them generally thought to have the best right. Hugh Gavelagh, Con, and Brian were at this time the most formidable. Tyrone says he made an agreement with Tirlogh Luineach that one of these three should always remain with him as hostage, that Hugh Gavelagh’s neck was specially pledged for its performance, and that the breach was the[Pg 221] cause of his death. The other brothers were Henry, Arthur, Edmund, and Tirlogh. With a score or so of fighting O’Neills, all trying to be first, it is not surprising that Ulster was turbulent, or that its reduction by the strong hand was only a question of time.[208]

Rival O’Donnells.

The actual chief of Tyrconnell was Sir Hugh O’Donnell, the husband of Ineen Duive, whose own son, Hugh Roe, was in prison. Donnell, an elder and seemingly illegitimate son, by an Irish mother, was made sheriff by Fitzwilliam in 1588, and was a thorn in Ineen’s side. Calvagh’s son Con died in 1583, but he in turn left nine sons, of whom Nial Garv was the most formidable, and their claims under the patent could hardly be denied. A third set of pretenders were the descendants of Hugh Duff, who were of the eldest blood, and who appealed to Celtic law. But the favourite of the clansmen was young Hugh Roe. All the tribes of the North depended more or less upon O’Donnell and O’Neill, and the lesser chiefries were in dispute as much as the greater.[209]

Hugh Roe O’Donnell.
Kidnapped by Perrott, 1587.

There was a prophecy that Ireland should be delivered by the O’Donnells when Hugh succeeded lawfully to Hugh. Its fulfilment was expected in Henry VIII.’s time, and now again it was in men’s mouths. Perrott, who had small regard for such fancies, noticed the boy’s importance, and decided that he would be a good pledge. In the winter of 1587, he sent a ship laden with wine and manned by fifty armed men round to Lough Swilly, where the master, John Bermingham of Dublin, traded freely with the natives. Hugh Roe came to hunt in the neighbourhood, or to visit MacSwiney Fanad, near whose castle of Rathmullen the false merchantman lay. As soon as the strangers heard of his arrival they went on board and kept careful watch. In due course messengers[Pg 222] came from MacSwiney, who wanted wine to entertain his distinguished guest. Bermingham answered that he had sold all he had to spare, but would be most happy to entertain MacSwiney and the gentlemen with him. They came on board accordingly, and when they had caroused for some time in the cabin, the seamen quietly got under way, shut down the hatches, and carried the whole party out to sea. Pursuit was impossible, for the natives had no boats; and Hugh Roe was lodged in Dublin Castle, where he found many companions in misfortune, and where prisoners ‘beguiled the time only by lamenting to each other their troubles, and listening to the cruel sentences passed on the high-born nobles of Ireland.’[210]

First escape of Hugh Roe O’Donnell, 1591.

Although not more than fifteen or sixteen years old, Hugh Roe was married to Tyrone’s daughter, and the whole North was thus interested in his safety. Perrott refused 2,000l. for his release, and he remained in prison until Fitzwilliam’s time. His brother Donnell, who married a daughter of Tirlogh Luineach, would have seized the chiefry, had he not been killed in resisting a force raised by Ineen Duive on behalf of her husband and son. Hugh’s fellow-prisoners were hostages from every part of Ireland: among them being Henry and Arthur, sons of Shane O’Neill, and Patrick Fitzmaurice, afterwards Lord of Kerry. The seneschal of Imokilly died in the Castle early in 1589. After more than three years’ confinement, Hugh Roe found means to escape with some of his friends. A wet ditch at that time surrounded the Castle, and the approach was over the wooden bridge, where the Lord Deputy had lately come into collision with the mutineers. The favour, almost amounting to subservience, which Fitzwilliam showed to Tyrone made people think that he was ready to connive at his son-in-law’s escape; but this is very hard to believe. ‘Upon my duty,’ he said when supporting one of the Earl’s numerous applications for Hugh’s release, ‘no reward maketh me write thus much.’ Friendly partisans were numerous in Dublin, and the soldiers who kept[Pg 223] the gate always wanted money, and were often under female influences. A rope was conveyed into the Castle, and Hugh slipped on to the bridge in the dusk of evening. The sentry was for the moment inside the gatehouse, and the prisoners managed to chain the gate on the outside. Art Kavanagh, ‘a renowned warrior of Leinster,’ was near with swords hidden under his Irish mantle, and the whole party slipped out of the town, and across the mountains to a wood near Powerscourt. Hugh’s companions here left him, for his shoes had fallen to pieces with the wet, and his feet were lacerated by the furze. Felim O’Toole, the lord of the neighbouring castles, was appealed to; for he had lately visited Hugh in prison, and was supposed to be his friend, the rather that he had married the sister of Feagh MacHugh O’Byrne. Fearing to offend the Government, or believing that escape was hopeless, O’Toole decided to gain credit for loyalty, and he gave up the fugitive, who was taken back to Dublin and loaded with irons.[211]

Tyrone elopes with Mabel Bagenal,
which her brother resents.

A plot in private life may have great public consequences, as every generation can testify. The Helen of the Elizabethan wars was Mabel Bagenal, daughter of Sir Nicholas and sister of Sir Henry, whose charms were at least one principal cause of the Ulster revolt. Tyrone had been first married to a daughter of Sir Brian MacPhelim O’Neill, from whom, according to his own account, he was ‘divorced by the orders of the Church.’ As to the validity of this divorce there were certainly doubts at the time, but the repudiated wife married again and had children. Tyrone’s second venture was with an O’Donnell, and he talked of discarding her too, though possibly without intending to do it. She died, and he then fell in love with Miss Bagenal, whom he might see at Newry as often as he pleased. Bagenal would not consent to the match, and his objections had some weight: the possible opposition of the Queen, ‘the incivility of the Earl’s country not agreeing with his sister’s education, and the uncertainty[Pg 224] of a jointure to be allotted for her maintenance after the Earl’s death,’ being those which seemed important to the Irish Government. Tyrone was a much more civilised being than Shane O’Neill, and Mabel Bagenal was more accustomed to Irish ways than Lady Frances Radclyffe; but Bagenal hated the proposed alliance as much as Sussex. ‘I can,’ he told Burghley, ‘but accurse myself and fortune that my blood, which in my father and myself hath often been spilled in repressing this rebellious race, should now be mingled with so traitorous a stock and kindred.’ To keep her out of harm’s way, he sent Mabel to her sister, who was married to Sir Patrick Barnewall, and who lived at Turvey near Swords; but Tyrone invited himself to the house for a night, obtained a secret promise of her hand, and presented her with a gold chain worth a hundred pounds. A few days after this he came to Turvey to dine with several friends, and after dinner the young lady slipped away on horseback behind one of them. ‘When I understood,’ he said, ‘that my prey (the language of cattle-lifting) was well forward in her way towards the place where we had agreed upon, I took my leave of Sir Patrick Barnewall and his lady, and followed after, and soon after I was gone, the gentlemen which were in company with me took their horses and came away privately.’[212]

Tyrone’s marriage, 1591.

Tyrone was fifty and Mabel twenty, which makes the romance rather less romantic, and Bagenal may have been right in saying that he did ‘by taking advantage of her years and ignorance of his barbarous estate and course of living, entice the unfortunate girl by nursing in her through the report of some corrupted persons an opinion of his haviour and greatness.’ At all events she probably liked the idea of being a countess. Tyrone’s intentions were so far honourable, in spite of Bagenal’s insinuations to the contrary, and the marriage was celebrated at William Warren’s house near Dublin, by no less a person than the Bishop of Meath, who declared that he was chiefly actuated by regard ‘for the gentlewoman’s credit.’ And, as Tyrone well knew, regard for[Pg 225] Bishop Jones’s credit would prevent the marriage from being seriously questioned. But Bagenal’s hostility was unabated, and even in his sister’s presence Tyrone openly declared that he hated no man in the world so much as the Knight Marshal. There is no evidence that he ill-treated her, as Shane ill-treated his victim, but there is some that she was not altogether happy in the wild life which she had chosen, or with her crafty and unscrupulous mate. She died after less than five years of matrimony, and so did not live to see her brother killed in conflict with her husband.[213]


[187] Fitzwilliam to the Privy Council, Dec. 31, 1588; to Burghley, Aug. 20, 1590; Robert Legge to Burghley, Feb. 17, 1590; Four Masters, 1588; Fynes Moryson, 1589; compare Captain Lee’s account in Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica, i. 129. Sir John O’Gallagher is called Sir Owen O’Toole in some English accounts, but this is wrong and misleading; the Christian name is Eoin not Eogan. Fynes Moryson was not in Ireland in 1588, and very probably copied Lee’s story.

[188] Fitzwilliam to the Privy Council, Dec. 31, 1588; Tyrone to Walsingham, Feb. 5, 1589; Patrick Foxe to Walsingham, Feb. 12.

[189] Book of the proceeding of Commissioners for ‘aryer’ claims in Munster, Sept. 3, 1588, of which there is a copy or rather a version (Aug. 29-Sept. 14) at Hatfield, with many details. Most of the facts in this and the two preceding paragraphs are from Mr. Hamilton’s Calendar 1588-1592. See also No. 128, 1591, in Carew. In 1597 Sir Nicholas Browne prophetically described the settlers as ‘fowls fatted in mews, to be spoiled at the pleasure of the country people’ (MS. Cotton, privately printed by Mr. Hussey.)

[190] Everything about Florence MacCarthy may be read in his Life and Letters by Daniel MacCarthy, a book of much research, but unfortunately even more chaotic than the common run of family histories.

[191] The documents are collected in Shirley’s History of Monaghan, pp. 80-91. The notes in O’Donovan’s Four Masters are very incorrect in this case, though they have often been copied. Essex was much pressed to surrender his patent for Farney, but steadily refused.

[192] Sir N. White to Burghley, April 7 and May 9, 1589; report by Bingham, April 10, and his answer to charges in November (No. 39).

[193] Among many papers concerning Browne, see his letter to Walsingham, June 10, 1585; Bingham to Perrott, July 30, 1586; Patrick Foxe to Walsingham, Feb. 26, 1589. The murder took place between the last date and Jan. 13, when Bingham’s commission to Browne was signed. For Walsingham’s views see Morrin’s Patent Rolls 26 Eliz. (No. 39). The Four Masters make out that Browne and Daly were killed in battle, but this was clearly not the case.

[194] Bingham to Burghley, April 6, 1589; Fitzwilliam to Burghley, April 9, with fourteen enclosures.

[195] Report of the Commissioners in Fitzwilliam’s letter to Burghley May 14, 1589.

[196] Bishop of Kilmore to Burghley, May 10, 1589; Bishop of Meath to same, May 13; Fitzwilliam to same, May 14, with enclosures; Bingham to Walsingham, May 23.

[197] Bingham to Burghley, Feb. 24, May 15 and 28, Aug. 26, 1588; Perrott to Walsingham, March 18, 1588; Gardiner, C.J., to Walsingham, Jan. 31, 1589; case of O’Connor Sligo, Feb. (No. 53); Walsingham to the Bishop of Meath, June 24; Kildare to Nottingham, May 31, 1590; and a paper dated Feb. 21, 1592; William Nugent’s Articles, Aug. 14, 1591.

[198] Fitzwilliam to Burghley, July 19, 1589; Bingham to Walsingham, July 24 and Sept. 4; the Articles are printed from a Cotton MS. in O’Flaherty’s Western Connaught, p. 396.

[199] Walsingham to Fitzwilliam, July 8, 1589; Fitzwilliam to Burghley, Aug. 9, Sept. 2, Oct. 6, and Dec. 19; Summary of rebellion by John Merbury, Aug. 1. Fitzwilliam calls Bingham ‘atheist,’ but Bishop Jones (to Burghley, May 13) said he was ‘a gentleman of great value, and one that feareth God.’ The Bishop sums up the causes of his great unpopularity under four heads:—1. Hanging gentlemen by martial law. 2. Commissions to prosecute protected persons by fire and sword. 3. Dispossessing men from their land by ‘provincial orders’ without legal trial. 4. Oppression by the soldiers.

[200] Bingham to Walsingham, June 24, 1589; Bingham’s answer to charges, Nov.; Sir N. White to Burghley, Dec. 5; Bishop Jones to Burghley, Dec. 6, and to Walsingham, Dec. 8; Loftus to Walsingham, Dec. 8; Fitzwilliam to Burghley, Dec. 13.

[201] The composition with O’Rourke, and much else concerning Leitrim, may be read in Hardiman’s notes to O’Flaherty’s Western Connaught, pp. 346-352; Bingham’s Discourse, July 1587; Bingham to Burghley, May 15 and 28, 1588; John Crofton and others to Bingham, Oct. 19, 1588; Bingham to Fitzwilliam, March 6, 1589; Fitzwilliam to Burghley, with enclosures, April 30; John Merbury to Burghley, Sept. 27, 1589.

[202] Bingham to Burghley, April 6, 1589; Fitzwilliam to Burghley, April 9, 1589, and Oct. 31, 1591; John Ball’s declaration, April 1590 (No. 96); John Bingham to Burghley, Aug. 8, 1591.

[203] Captain Nicholas Mordaunt to Fitzwilliam, May 11, 1589; Fitzwilliam to Burghley, Oct. 6; Account of O’Rourke’s country by Fenton and Burghley, Feb. 1592 (No. 43).

[204] Theobald Dillon to Burghley, Oct. 18, 1589; Edward Whyte to Sir N. White, Oct. 20; the Queen to Fitzwilliam, Nov. 19; Fitzwilliam to Burghley, Dec. 19; to the Privy Council, Jan. 27 and March 2 and 24, 1590, with enclosures; Bingham to Burghley, April 7.

[205] Fitzwilliam to Burghley, March 24, 1590, with enclosures; Bingham to Burghley, April 23; Camden. Bruce’s Letters of Elizabeth and James VI., April 1591. The charges against O’Rourke are detailed in the Egerton Papers; O’Sullivan Bere, tom. iii. lib. ii. cap. 1; Four Masters, 1590 and 1591. It is stated in O’Donovan’s notes to the Annals, and in many other places, that O’Rourke begged to be hanged with a withe, and Bacon’s essays are given as an authority; but this is not what Bacon says. His words (No. 39, ‘Of Custom and Education’) are: ‘I remember in the beginning of Queen Elizabeth’s time of England, an Irish rebel condemned put up a petition to the Deputy that he might be hanged in a withe and not in a halter, because it had been so used with former rebels.’

[206] Relation by Carew, May 28, 1590, and his letters of May 31 and July 26 to Burghley, Raleigh, and Heneage, all in Carew. The Master of the Ordnance evidently sympathises with the poor soldiers. See also Loftus to Hatton and Burghley, May 31.

[207] Walsingham’s opinion and other papers in April 1587; Lord Deputy and Council to the Privy Council, March 31 and May 15, 1589; Kildare to Burghley, May 31, 1590; Tyrone’s answer to Articles, March 19, 1590. All Fitzwilliam’s letters during this period bear out the text; see the Four Masters, who say Hugh Gavelagh was greatly lamented, and O’Donovan’s notes under 1590.

[208] Archbishop Magrath’s report to the Queen, May 30, 1592; for Sir Arthur O’Neill see Tirlogh Luineach’s petition, July 1, 1587; for the MacShanes see Tyrone’s answer to Articles, March 19, 1590, and the opinion of Coke, S.G., Aug. 13, 1592.

[209] The O’Donnell tangle may be understood from Archbishop Magrath’s report, May 30, 1592, and from the Appendix to O’Donovan’s Four Masters See also Fitzwilliam, Loftus, and Fenton to the Privy Council, Dec. 31, 1588.

[210] Four Masters, 1587; Perrott’s Life, p. 278; Tyrone to Walsingham, Dec. 10, 1587.

[211] Four Masters, 1590; Note of pledges in Dublin Castle, Aug. 1588; Fitzwilliam to Burghley, Nov. 29, 1589, and to Sir G. Carew in Carew, Jan. 15, 1591.

[212] Lord Deputy and Council to the Privy Council, Aug. 21, 1591; Sir H. Bagenal to Burghley, Aug. 13; Tyrone to the Privy Council, Oct. 31.

[213] The documents are collected in the Irish Arch. Journal, N. S. vol. i. pp. 298-314. One of Tyrone’s main grievances against Bagenal was that he would not pay him the 1,000l. reserved to his sister by her father’s will; and he continued to clamour for this money even after poor Mabel’s death.

[Pg 226]



Second escape of Hugh O’Donnell, 1592.
His sufferings from exposure.
He reaches Donegal.

It was no new thing that prisoners should escape from Dublin Castle, nor that they should be brought back again; and Hugh Roe did not despair. A year after his first attempt, and at the same evening hour, he knocked off his irons and lowered himself with a long rope into the ditch. His companions were Shane O’Neill’s sons, Henry and Art, and they were helped outside by Tyrone’s confidential servant, Tirlogh O’Hagan. The fugitives passed through the streets unnoticed, and reached the mountains that same night. Their sufferings from exposure were great, and Art O’Neill, who had grown fat in prison, and had besides received a blow from a falling stone when getting out of it, was forced to lie down under a rock at the foot of the mountains. Edward Eustace, who had been sent by Feagh MacHugh to act as guide, was now despatched to that chief, and food and beer were sent to their relief. The men who brought the provisions said that O’Neill was past help, and there he died. Hugh was badly frostbitten and the nails of his great toes afterwards fell off, but he was able to drink some beer, and they carried him to a solitary house in the woods of Glenmalure. In due course Tyrone sent a messenger, with whom he travelled northwards, though he had to be lifted into the saddle and out of it. Felim O’Toole was now eager to help, and accompanied him to the Liffey, which he forded unperceived just above Dublin. His guide spoke English, and led him through Meath to the neighbourhood of Drogheda. Avoiding the town, they diverged to Mellifont, which belonged to Sir Edward Moore, and here they were lodged and helped on their way. After resting until[Pg 227] the evening of next day, they rode all night, and passed through Dundalk as soon as the gates were opened in the morning. The danger was now over, and Tirlogh MacHenry O’Neill, whose power lay in the south part of Armagh, forwarded them safely to Dungannon, whence Tyrone sent Hugh O’Donnell, under escort, to Lough Erne. Here he was met by Maguire, and brought in triumph to Ballyshannon. Henry MacShane O’Neill did not go to Glenmalure at all, but escaped northwards from the Dublin mountains, among which his brother had died, and thus fell into Tyrone’s hands. The Earl kept him long in captivity, and it is probable that in helping his son-in-law to escape, he also intended to prevent the Government from setting up the MacShanes against him.[214]

O’Donnell, Maguire,
and Tyrone.

Hugh Maguire said that he had given Fitzwilliam 300 cows to free his country from a sheriff, but that one had nevertheless been appointed, in the person of Captain Willis. This officer did not confine his attention to Fermanagh, and much of Tyrconnell was actually in his power. This company, who bore a very bad character in the country, were quartered in the monastery of Donegal, from which they expelled the friars, and Hugh Roe’s first care was to get rid of the intruders. The O’Donnells mustered in large numbers, and Willis and his men were glad to escape with their lives into Connaught. The friars then returned to their house. During March and April Hugh was in the hands of the doctors, who are said to have amputated both his great toes; but in May his father made way for him, and he was installed as O’Donnell with the usual ceremonies. Two expeditions against Tirlogh Luineach followed, and all the country about Strabane was laid waste. Nor was Tyrone quite idle, for he allowed his son Con to attack MacKenna, the chief of Trough, who had profited by Fitzwilliam’s settlement of the MacMahons’ country. The[Pg 228] opportunity taken was while MacKenna was attending the sessions at Monaghan, and the commissioners were forced to adjourn. It suited neither O’Neills nor O’Donnells to have sheriffs and gibbets so near them.[215]

Tyrone induces O’Donnell to submit, 1592.

Fitzwilliam proceeded to Dundalk, intent upon making Tyrone give up the offenders, so that they might be hanged at Monaghan, but the outrage turned out to be much less grave than was reported. Anxious to gain a good character, which might be of use to him in arranging his law suits with Tirlogh Luineach, Tyrone went to Donegal, and brought Hugh Roe O’Donnell with him into the Lord Deputy’s presence. Hugh made public submission in the church at Dundalk, swearing to be loyal like his father, and to expel strangers from his country. The result was that all opposition to him ceased in Tyrconnell, since no pretender could hope to cope with a chief who enjoyed the help of the Government.[216]

Sir John Perrott is accused.
His enemies.

It has been often said that Sir John Perrott was driven out of Ireland by intrigue, but the fact is that he had long clamoured for his own recall. In England he enjoyed considerable influence, sat as a Privy Councillor, and remained in communication with several men of position in Ireland. But he made enemies everywhere, and it is supposed that the real cause of his downfall was a quarrel with the Chancellor, whom he openly taunted with having danced himself on to the woolsack. ‘Sir John Perrott talked,’ says one biographer, ‘while Sir Christopher Hatton thought.’ He despised the usual and perhaps necessary arts of a courtier, and was too frequently absent from the centre of favour and intrigue. Burghley was certainly his friend, but, great as was the old minister’s power, he could not always prevail against combinations. In Dublin the[Pg 229] official set were generally hostile to Perrott, and many had personal grudges against him. He himself attributed his misfortunes to Loftus, whom he had abused for not allowing St. Patrick’s Cathedral to be turned into a college, and Bishop Jones had also his grievances. Philip Williams, Perrott’s secretary, having been dismissed and imprisoned by him, offered to disclose matters affecting the Queen; and it was to the Archbishop of Dublin and Bishop of Meath that he applied for help. Sir Nicholas White, who in some degree represented the old English families of Ireland, as distinguished from the purely English and official element, was favourable to Perrott. His firmest ally was Richard Meredith, a Welshman, who had been his chaplain, and who held the deanery of St. Patrick’s and the bishopric of Leighlin together. Sir Richard Bingham, who had no cause to love Perrott, does not seem to have borne malice; but Fitzwilliam evidently leaned to the side of his accusers. The late Deputy’s language was not only violent, but had that unfortunate quality of picturesqueness which made people remember it. Thus Loftus could tell Burghley, with the certainty of getting corroborative evidence, how his enemy had boasted that he would send the Council out of Dublin Castle on cabbage-stalks, and how he had threatened to pull the Archbishop into small pieces, like grass between his fingers. Such speeches were not treasonable, but they show why so many men were anxious to prove that Sir John Perrott was a traitor.[217]

Charges against Perrott.
The witnesses.

Numerous accusations were brought against Perrott soon after his return to England, but he had little difficulty in meeting them. Matters became more serious when a letter purporting to be written by him was actually produced, in which he offered to make Philip II. king of England and Ireland, on condition of being made hereditary Prince of[Pg 230] Wales. It seems clear that the paper was forged by Charles Trevor, an adventurer who had been employed by O’Rourke to manage his son’s escape from Oxford, and whom Perrott had formerly imprisoned. His companion in the Castle, and perhaps his accomplice in the forgery, was one Dennis O’Roughan or Roughan, who had originally been a Roman Catholic priest and had lived in Spain. Finding it convenient to return, Roughan professed himself a Protestant, and had several children by Margaret Leonard of New Ross, whom some called his wife and some did not. He was evidently a liar of the first magnitude, for he told Fitzwilliam that he had said mass to Perrott, who was no persecutor, but who was certainly a sincere Protestant and a hater of Spaniards. When Trevor escaped from prison the forged letter, or one like it, remained in his hands, and he seems to have been accused of several of the forgeries and found guilty of at least one. Roughan produced his false letter, and pretended to be in fear of his life from Perrott’s friends. With an evident desire to make the most of it all, the Deputy sent over his son, with orders to give the document to the Queen herself. Bishop Meredith observed that John Fitzwilliam would have to ride very fast if Perrott did not know all before her Majesty. Considering the abundant evidence as to Roughan’s bad character—and he was a perjurer by his own confession—it might be supposed that no credit would have been given to him. Probably much of the truth was kept from the Queen’s knowledge. An enquiry in Dublin had but doubtful results, and the commissioners, whom the Queen herself rebuked, were accused of partiality to Perrott. They examined Roughan, who soon showed his real colours, and they were probably disinclined to do anything on such evidence. When the man went to London, where nothing was known about him, he accused the commissioners of corrupt dealing, but he soon lost credit in England too. Fitzwilliam evidently leaned strongly against Perrott, and Sir N. White was placed under restraint by him. Whether anyone really believed Roughan may be doubted, but the information gained in connection[Pg 231] with his story enabled Perrott’s enemies to draw their net round him.[218]

Trial of Perrott, 1592.
He is found guilty,
though probably innocent.

At the beginning of February, 1591, Sir John Perrott was in the custody of the Lord Treasurer; and of his friends we are told that the Bishop of Leighlin was merry in the Fleet, and Sir Nicholas White sad in the Marshalsea. Contrary to the expectation of many, Sir John was sent to the Tower on March 8; and there he was destined to end his days. His imprisonment was close, and he complained of impaired memory from the treatment he received. At last, in April 1592, he was brought to trial for treason, his indictment specifying that he had compassed the Queen’s death. On one side were Popham, Egerton, and Puckering, and on the other a rough old knight, conscious of many rash speeches, but strong in the confidence which innocence gives, and ‘renouncing the merits and mercy of his Saviour Jesus Christ’ if he was really guilty. The court did nothing to supply the want of counsel. Chief Justice Anderson behaved with his usual brutality, declaring that Perrott was worse than Babington or than any of the traitors, and they were many, at whose trials he had assisted. Hunsdon was one of the Commission, and he also interfered very often and very unfairly. The accused could do little but protest that he was innocent, and that Roughan and Williams were perjured scoundrels. He wished the devil might take him body and soul if he had uttered a certain coarse speech, which many thought the real cause of Elizabeth’s animosity. He appealed to Rokeby, master of requests, who was one of his judges, whether his experience in Ireland had not taught him that witnesses there[Pg 232] had no respect for an oath and might be cheaply bribed to swear anything. God, he said, would plague his persecutors for their corrupt dealing. He was found guilty, but a great judge of our own time has described his trial as ‘the scandalous attempt of prerogative lawyers—of which Elizabeth herself was ashamed—to convert the peevish speeches against her, of that worthy old soldier, Sir John Perrott, into overt acts of high treason.’[219]

Death and character of Perrott.

‘Sir John Perrott,’ says Swift, ‘was the first man of quality whom I find upon the record to have sworn by God’s wounds. He lived in the reign of Queen Elizabeth and was supposed to be a natural son of Henry VIII. who might also probably have been his instructor.’ According to Naunton, who is not a bad authority on such a point, Perrott was aware of his royal parentage. ‘What,’ he asked the lieutenant of the Tower, with oaths and fury, ‘will the Queen suffer her brother to be offered up a sacrifice to my skipping adversaries?’ Naunton shows that circumstances make the fact not improbable, and adds that Perrott’s manners, appearance, and voice were like those which the Elizabethan tradition ascribed to Henry. Hatton, the chief of Sir John’s skipping adversaries, was now dead; and the Queen was urged by Burghley and others to spare a faithful, though rash, servant. At all events she refused to sign his death-warrant, and when his speech to Hopton was reported to her, she swore by God’s death that they were all knaves. It was thought that she intended to pardon him, and she was often heard to applaud a rescript of Honorius, ‘that if any person speak ill of the Emperor through a foolish rashness and inadvertency, it is to be despised; if out of madness, it deserves pity; if from malice and aversion, it calls for mercy.’ Perrott died in the Tower in the following September; but his chief request was granted, and his son was allowed to inherit. The fact of that son being married to Essex’s sister may have had something to do with this.[220]

[Pg 233]

Tirlogh Luineach O’Neill resigns the chiefry
in Tyrone’s favour, 1593.

The disputes between Tyrone and Tirlogh Luineach were hard to settle, for the several grants were not easily reconcilable with one another. But Coke’s opinion was taken, and that great lawyer laid down that, by virtue of an indenture made in 1587, the Earl might be forced to leave Tirlogh and his son in quiet possession of such lands as should be awarded to them by inquisition. This had been practically a condition of reviving the earldom in Hugh’s person, and the older grant of all Tyrone by Henry VIII. was so far modified by it. As to the lands, Fitzwilliam effected an arrangement nearly in accordance with Coke’s opinion; but Tirlogh was now old, and finding himself unable to resist both Tyrone and O’Donnell, he thought it wiser to resign his chiefry in his rival’s favour. ‘Hugh O’Neill, namely the Earl,’ say the Four Masters, ‘was then styled the O’Neill, and Tirlogh Luineach, having made peace with O’Neill and O’Donnell, sent away the English whom he had with him. This was done in May 1593. Ulster was then under the peaceable government of these two; and they had hostages of the inhabitants in their power, so that they were subject to them.’[221]

The Four Masters’ notions of peace.
A titular archbishop.

Tyrone’s object for the movement was to keep things quiet and to gain credit for loyalty; but neither he nor O’Donnell ever enjoyed much of the peaceable power described by the annalists. Brian Oge O’Rourke had a dispute with the Binghams about his composition rent, and plundered the country about Ballymote. Maguire’s emulation was aroused, and, in spite of a promise to Tyrone, he also invaded Connaught, leaving Lough Allen to his left, and penetrating to Tulsk in Roscommon, where Sir Richard Bingham was encamped. The English party were outnumbered, and Maguire drove off many cattle, but, in the running fight which followed, Edmund MacGauran, titular primate of all Ireland, was killed. According to Bingham,[Pg 234] MacGauran was constantly occupied in stirring up sedition, which he fostered by assurances of Spanish aid. ‘He was, he says, ‘a champion of the Pope’s, like Dr. Allen, the notable traitor; but, God be thanked, he hath left his dead carcase on the Maugherie, only the said rebels carried his head away with them that they might universally bemoan him at home.’ O’Sullivan said that the Archbishop had special orders from Philip II. to stir up war against the Protestants, and to hold out hopes of Spanish succours, and that Maguire was sorry for his loss rather than pleased at the spoil which he was able to secure.[222]

Maguire attacks Monaghan,
but is defeated by Tyrone,
who soon changes sides.

O’Rourke kept Bingham pretty busy during the summer, and Maguire turned his attention to Monaghan. It was not difficult to raise a party among the MacMahons, and Monaghan was vigorously attacked early in September. The garrison repulsed the assailants, but not without considerable loss, and Fitzwilliam found it necessary to make a great display of force. Bagenal and Tyrone commanded the troops, which were collected at Clones, and Maguire drove off his flocks and herds into Tyrconnell. The fords over the Erne near Belleek were found indefensible against so strong a force, but Tyrone was severely wounded in the thigh. This victory of the brothers-in-law only increased their mutual hatred, for the Marshal claimed most of the credit, which the Earl thought belonged to him. The O’Neills were engaged in large numbers, and the tactics which afterwards proved so fatal to Bagenal had been employed on his side. ‘Maguire’s assailants,’ says O’Sullivan Bere, ‘had 700 horse against 100, and musketeers against archers, and the leaden bullets went further than the arrows. The musketeers in the woods[Pg 235] bordering on the river shot down with impunity the Catholics who stood in the open, while the archers could take no aim at men protected by thick clumps of trees.’ The same writer says that Bagenal asked Tyrone to write in praise of his valour both to the Queen and to the Deputy, and that the Earl replied that he would tell the truth when he came into their presence. It was one of Tyrone’s grievances that Bagenal got more than his due share of credit, but it is probable that this was mainly an excuse for the course upon which he had already determined. According to O’Sullivan, O’Donnell was on his way to help Maguire, but was delayed by a messenger from Tyrone, who begged him not to compromise him while in the power of the Protestants, whose party he was about to desert. Tyrone believed, or pretended to believe, that the Marshal had orders from Fitzwilliam to arrest him; and, wounded as he was, he withdrew to Dungannon, out of harm’s way. This was his last service to the Crown during Elizabeth’s life, and the annalists believed that it was rendered unwillingly.[223]

Bingham takes Enniskillen, 1594.

Bingham pressed Maguire from the Connaught side, and boats were launched upon Lough Erne, so that the defeated chief was hunted from island to island, during a great part of the winter. To find his cattle was to take them, for no resistance could be made; but Enniskillen Castle held out for a long time against the fire of field-pieces. ‘To present her Majesty’s forces,’ said Fenton, ‘before a castle in Ireland and not to carry it were highly dishonourable to the State, and a dangerous preparation to all the Irish to think less of her Majesty’s strength.’ But the soldiers worked while the Secretary criticised, and early in February Enniskillen was taken by assault, on the ninth day of the actual siege. Boats, protected with hides and hurdles, kept the garrison occupied, while the trenches were advanced, and ladders were used for the final storm. But O’Sullivan declared that the place would never have been taken had not Bingham bribed one of the warders, known from his hideous countenance as ‘the pi[Pg 236]g’s son.’ The traitor, he says, made a feigned resistance only, and was spared, while the rest, including some women, were put to the sword. Maguire was driven into Tyrone with a few followers, but Bingham maintained that nothing had really been done until Bundrowes, Ballyshannon, and Belleek were taken from O’Donnell. The Lord Deputy did not like Bingham nor his advice, but the event proved that the latter was right.[224]

Recall of Fitzwilliam.
Negotiations with Tyrone.

Fitzwilliam’s health had been failing since the summer of 1592, and latterly he had been very anxious to leave Ireland. The Queen had been ready to recall him at Michaelmas, but Burghley said he should have the honour of finishing Maguire’s affair, and he could only beg that he should not be expected to catch a runagate rogue. ‘I am,’ he said, ‘upon the pitch of sixty-nine years old, my body is weak, my stomach weaker, the stone doth oft torment me, and now the gout hath utterly lamed me in my leg. My sight and memory do both fail me, so that I am less than half a man, and not much more than a dead man.’ Had the Queen adhered to her original intention he might have been spared these pains. He was now directed to appoint Lords Justices if he felt too ill to carry on the routine business of government, but if possible to retain office until the arrival of his successor. The new viceroy was Sir William Russell, fourth son of Francis, Earl of Bedford, who had served with credit in Holland, who was by Sidney’s side when he received his death-wound, and who succeeded him as governor of Flushing. Fitzwilliam did not find it necessary to appoint Lords Justices, but he was unable to leave Dublin, and negotiations with Tyrone were referred to commissioners. The Earl maintained that he was quite loyal, but that the Lord Deputy and the Marshal were in league against him. Bagenal had orders to treat with O’Donnell, and sent one Darby Newman, from Newry, to make a beginning. Tyrone received Newman at Dungannon, and refused to send him on to Strabane. Bagenal’s emissary, he said, was not sufficiently[Pg 237] important to risk his credit for; he had already done too much, and was determined that Tyrconnell should not be treated as Fermanagh had been. The Marshal, he added, raising his voice for all to hear, might do it by himself if he could. Maguire was now again at the head of 200 or 300 men, and would not leave a head on anyone’s shoulders who wore hat or cloak, or who spoke a word of English. With Bagenal he would have no dealings, nor would he let O’Donnell have any; but any other commissioner should be welcome to his country. Archbishop Loftus, Chief Justice Gardiner, and Sir Anthony St. Leger, the Master of the Rolls, were chosen, and they proceeded to Dundalk early in March. In the meantime, Tyrone tried to enlist the great influence of Ormonde on his side, and his letters were so startling that the latter thought it right to send them straight to the Queen.[225]

Tyrone’s grievance

Tyrone kept the commissioners waiting for some days, professing to be afraid of Bagenal’s treachery; but he appeared at last on protection, and gave in a long list of grievances. Hatred of the Marshal, whom he accused of bribing Fitzwilliam with money extorted from the people under him, seems indeed to have been the mainspring of his movements at this time. As to the settlement of Monaghan, for instance, he says that ‘every peddling merchant and other men of no account had a share of the land; and the Marshal (who never took pains in bringing of that country to subjection) had a great part of it.’ Besides the general statement of his grievances given to the commissioners, Tyrone sent a secret article to Sir Henry Wallop, whom he thought inclined to favour him. In this he alleged specific acts of corruption against Fitzwilliam and Bagenal, saying that he did not mention these to the commissioners only because they were in such haste to be gone. But before Loftus and his colleagues left Dundalk he promised to keep the peace until his cause could be heard impartially, and swore that if O’Donnell or any[Pg 238] other broke out in the meantime, he would be the first to cut his throat. This did not prevent some of the O’Neills from immediately harrying the Marshal’s country, nor from burning houses with women and children in them. Indeed there can be little doubt that it was a main object with Tyrone, as it had been with Shane O’Neill, to get rid of the settlement at Newry. It was planted on purpose to bridle Ulster, and it had proved effective. And English laws or English officers are unpopular in Ireland exactly in proportion to their efficiency.[226]

Fitzwilliam’s opinion of Tyrone
and of Captain Thomas Lee.
Lee’s opinion of Irish chiefs
and of Sir Henry Bagenal.

Fitzwilliam emphatically denied all charges of corruption against himself, and said he had always treated Tyrone with the consideration due to a useful instrument. Appearances were now very much against him, and the Chief Justice had shown scandalous partiality in separating from his fellow-commissioners and remaining for two or three days quite alone with the Earl. Captain Thomas Lee too, who was a needy man and suspiciously intimate with Tyrone, had stolen away to him and was not likely to exercise a good influence. Lee, who was afterwards hanged at Tyburn for his share in the Essex conspiracy, distinguished himself in the Wicklow district, and he has left a curious paper in which he cautioned the Queen against the probable cost and trouble of an Ulster war. According to him the North could only be governed with Tyrone’s help. The chief authority there should be in his hands, and, that being granted, there would be no difficulty in getting him to accept a sheriff and to have regular assizes at Dungannon. ‘Being often his bedfellow,’ says Lee, ‘he hath divers times bemoaned himself, with tears in his eyes, saying if he knew any way in the world to behave himself (otherwise than he hath done) to procure your Majesty’s assured good opinion of him, he would not spare (if it pleased you to command him) to offer himself to serve your highness in any part of the world against your enemies, though he were sure to lose his life... which tears have neither proceeded from dissimulation, or of a childish disposition, (for all who[Pg 239] know him will acquit him thereof) but of mere zeal unto your highness, &c.’ Of a childish disposition, indeed, he may well be acquitted; but dissimulation was his strong point. And Lee’s proposed system of government involved arrangements with other chiefs also; yet he averred O’Donnell, Maguire, Brian Oge MacMahon, and Brian Oge O’Rourke to be traitors and villains and obstinate against the Queen. O’Donnell was married to one of Tyrone’s daughters, and Maguire was soon to wed another. Again he says, ‘all the friends to your highness in those countries are but two, O’Hanlon and Magennis.... O’Hanlon is married to the Earl of Tyrone’s sister, and merely enriched by the Earl; Magennis’s eldest son is to marry the Earl’s daughter. And if this affinity were [not], the manner of the Irish is always to the part they see strongest; and when your Majesty (as there is no doubt) shall prevail, they will then seek favour and make offer of much service, but seldom or never perform any; whereof myself have been too often a witness.’ This testimony is remarkable because it exactly coincides with that of Bagenal, who said his neighbours, O’Hanlon and Magennis, were combined with Tyrone, not because they liked him, but because he seemed, for the moment, to be the strongest. In Tyrone’s interest Lee stigmatises Bagenal as a slanderer and a coward, but he agrees with him where his hero’s interests are not specially concerned, praising Bingham to the skies and losing no opportunity of calling Feagh MacHugh a traitor.[227]

Ormonde and Tyrone.

Burghley urged Ormonde, for his own honour and the State’s safety, to make some arrangement with Tyrone, and Sir George Carew, whose advice was taken about this time, believed that the new Irish trouble might thus be nipped in the bud. Ormonde, he said, ‘has that credit with the Earl as at his will he can lead him to do what he list, for upon his wisdom and friendship he only dependeth.’ A correspondence[Pg 240] took place accordingly, in which Ormonde entreated Tyrone to bear himself loyally in the sight of all, and never to forget the Queen’s benefits. He had promised the commissioners to behave himself, and it was dishonourable for gentlemen to break their words. By presenting himself frankly to the Viceroy, as became a nobleman and a good subject, he would show that he had nothing to fear, and he might be sure of justice if he harboured no traitors in the meantime. Tyrone thanked his adviser heartily, promised to come to Dublin like the Queen’s loyal subject as he was, and declared that he feared nothing but the spite of Fitzwilliam and Bagenal, who sought his life. As to harbouring rebels, there were two or three thousand proclaimed traitors in Ireland, and it would be strange if some were not sheltered near him.[228]

Florence MacCarthy in Munster, 1593-1594.

Owing in great measure to Ormonde’s intercession, who gave a bond in 1,000l. for his good behaviour, Florence MacCarthy had been released from the Tower early in 1591 and left at liberty, provided he did not go more than three miles from London. He was a persistent and skilful suitor, and his constant pleas of poverty were not without their effect on the Queen. First she granted him a warrant of protection against arrest for debt, and then she devised a means of enriching him without expense to herself. David Lord Barry had been implicated in the Desmond treasons, and had been fined 500l., which he was not asked to pay. He looked upon this as in the nature of a mere recognizance, and he had done nothing whatever to forfeit it. The Queen had nothing new to complain of, but she gave Florence MacCarthy leave to recover the fine if he could. This was a poor reward for Barry’s loyalty; especially as he had been the first to warn the Government of the danger to be apprehended from Florence’s marriage, and was even now cautioning them against letting Florence return to his own country. To Ireland, nevertheless, he was allowed to go, and Fitzwilliam ordered Barry to pay the 500l. in four quarterly instalments. It does not[Pg 241] however, seem to have been paid, and Florence spent more than the whole amount in costs. Lord Barry, who remained staunchly loyal, put in one dilatory plea after another, and in due course Florence was himself involved in treasonable plots. His brother-in-law Donell—if the term can be used of a bastard—continued to maintain himself in the character of Robin Hood, and the undertakers had their difficulties with both.[229]

Remarks on Fitzwilliam’s government.

Fitzwilliam’s long public career was now at an end, though he lived until 1599. Years before he had expected to be buried in Ireland and slandered in England; and slandered he seems to have been, though he was allowed to sleep in his own country. He was not a brilliant man, and he was never given the means of doing very great things; but he steadily advanced the power of the Crown in Ireland. Not being a professional soldier he gained no remarkable victories; but of his courage there could be no doubt, as the Dublin mutiny well proved. The charge of corruption has been commonly repeated against him, but this old-world gossip wants confirmation. It was the general practice to make accusations of covetousness against Irish officials, and especially against chief governors. Russell did not escape, and it is clear that many things capable of an ill interpretation would be done in a country where enough money was never forthcoming for the public service. It is evident that neither Elizabeth nor Burghley believed the stories against Fitzwilliam, and if an official satisfies those who employ him he can afford to despise unpopularity. He was not a great man, but he was eminently serviceable, and, if he gained no striking successes, his reign was free from crushing disasters.


[214] Four Masters, 1592. On Feb. 27, Gardiner, C.J., writes to Burghley that Hugh Roe is back in Donegal; under May 31, 1589, there is a list of twenty-two prisoners who had escaped from Dublin Castle, of which eleven had been brought back, but Hugh Roe is not mentioned. In 1594 Henry, Con, and Brian MacShane were all in Tyrone’s custody; (No. 139) in Carew of that year.

[215] Four Masters, 1592; Fitzwilliam to Burghley, July 7. Captain Lee, in Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica, vol. i. p. 106, says Willis had with him three hundred of the very rascals and scum of that kingdom, which did rob and spoil that people, ravish their wives and daughters, and make havoc of all.

[216] Four Masters, 1592; Tyrone to Burghley, Aug, 2; Fitzwilliam to Burghley, Aug. 8.

[217] Loftus to Burghley, Dec. 27, 1590, and Feb. 4, 1591; Lloyd’s State Worthies. Loftus began the attack by recommending Philip Williams to Burghley, Dec. 18, 1586. Williams’s wife applied to Jones a few days later, and the Archbishop forwarded her letter, Jan. 1, 1587. Fitzwilliam wrote to Burghley in favour of Williams, Sept. 17, 1590; see also Sir R. Bingham to Geo. Bingham, Oct. 29, 1591.

[218] The forged letter is dated June 25, 1585, and calendared Feb. 16, 1590; Commission dated March 20, 1590, from the Privy Council to the Bishops of Meath and Leighlin, Sir L. Dillon, Sir N. White, Sir E. Moore, Sir E. Waterhouse, Walshe, J., and Calthorpe, A. G. Dillon and White to Burghley, June 26 and 28, 1590; Bishop Meredith to Burghley, July 13, 1590. Fitzwilliam’s letters are too numerous to cite; their general tenour bears out the text; many letters as to Trevor, especially Sir R. Bingham to G. Bingham, Oct. 29, 1591. For the priest Roughan see an amusing account in Strype’s Life of Aylmer, and for Perrott’s quarrel with Loftus and Jones see his Annals (Eliz.) book ii. chaps. 3 and 4. For evidence of Roughan’s perjuries see Morrin’s Patent Rolls, 42 Eliz. No. 21.

[219] Lord Campbell’s Chief Justices, i. 247; Howell’s State Trials, vol. i.

[220] Introduction to Swift’s Polite Conversation; Naunton’s Fragmenta Regalia; Howell’s State Trials. There is a curious account of Sir Thomas Perrott’s marriage with Lady Dorothy Devereux in Strype’s Aylmer.

[221] Fitzwilliam and Bagenal to Burghley, July 25, 1592; Mr. Solicitor-General Coke to Burghley, Aug. 13; Four Masters, 1593. By the articles of agreement concluded at Dundalk on June 28, 1593, Tirlogh Luineach was awarded a life-interest in the Strabane district, while the Earl’s supremacy was acknowledged over all Tyrone.

[222] Bingham’s letter of June 28, 1593, is quoted in Brady’s Episcopal Succession, i. 223; O’Sullivan Bere, tom. iii. lib. 2, cap. 6. There is an original intercepted letter at Hatfield from Primate MacGauran to Captain Eustace, dated Madrid, June 28, 1591, in which the writer says:—‘I hope in God Ireland will soon be free from Englishmen, and notwithstanding that the Catholic King his captains be slow in their affairs, I am certain that the men now purposed to be sent to comfort the same poor island, which is in distress a long time, will not be slow. I ought not to write much unto you touching those causes, for I know that a Spaniard shall be chief governor of them. The Irish regiment is written for.’

[223] O’Sullivan, tom. iii. lib. 2, cap. 7; Four Masters, 1593; Shirley’s Monaghan, pp. 97 and 98; the Earl of Tyrone’s grievances, March 14, 1594.

[224] Fenton to Burghley, Feb. 2, 1594; Captain John Dowdall to Fitzwilliam, Feb. 2, 3, and 7; Bingham to Puckering, C.S., Feb. 15; Cornelius Maguire to Fitzwilliam, Feb. 7; O’Sullivan, tom. iii. lib. 7, cap. 7.

[225] Fitzwilliam to Burghley, Jan. 30, 1594; to Cecil same date; Ormonde to Burghley, Feb. 20; Tyrone to Bagenal, Feb. 17; declaration of Darby Newman, Feb. 19; draft minute by Burghley and others concerning the viceroyalty, March.

[226] Tyrone’s grievances, March 14, 1594; Tyrone to Wallop, April 3; Bagenal to Fitzwilliam, March 20; Ormonde to Tyrone, May 21.

[227] Fitzwilliam to Burghley, Feb. 28 and April 19, 1594; Bagenal to Fitzwilliam, March 20. Lee’s declaration to the Queen is printed (with some obvious mistakes) in Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica, vol. i. pp. 89 to 150. It was written in England between Oct. 1594 and March 1596, as is proved by the references to Sir Robert Gardiner’s movements. Lee was of Reban castle near Athy, where he had property.

[228] Ormonde to Tyrone, April 19 and 30, and May 21, 1594; Tyrone’s answer to the letter of April 30; Burghley to Ormonde, April 7; Carew to Burghley, April 13.

[229] Florence MacCarthy’s Life.

[Pg 242]



Arrival of Russell, 1594.

Sir William Russell left Theobalds on June 25, and did not reach Dublin till August 1. Even at midsummer no wind served to sail out of the Dee, and at Holyhead itself there was a week’s delay. Keeping to the letter of his instructions, Russell refused to receive the sword until Fitzwilliam and the Council had given him a written account of the state of Leinster and Connaught; and this ten days’ pause gave Tyrone time to look about him. Ormonde went to Dublin, and waited anxiously for eleven days to see whether the northern earl would perform his promise. On August 15, and to the great surprise of all men, Tyrone made his appearance, the late Deputy having sailed for England the day before. Russell had desired his predecessor to stay and make good his charges; but Fitzwilliam declined, unless ordered to do so on his allegiance, and Tyrone was thus enabled to say that he would have easily cleared himself in his oppressor’s presence, had the latter stayed but one day longer.[230]

Tyrone in Dublin.
He is allowed to go free.

On arriving in Dublin, Tyrone sent in a written submission, and two days later he presented it on his knees to the Lord Deputy sitting in Council. Again he laid all blame on Fitzwilliam and Bagenal, acknowledging that his efforts to save his life from their machinations might have some appearance of ingratitude, and professing himself ready to serve the Queen and her new Deputy. He promised to do his best to restore peace in Ulster, to expel the Scots, and to protect the Pale. He was ready to receive a sheriff, provided Armagh and Tyrone were made one county, and to have a gaol at[Pg 243] Dungannon, and to pay a reasonable composition. He promised to send his eldest son, Hugh, to Wallop or Gardiner, who might send him to an English university within three months, to give sufficient pledges, and to molest no Englishman within his jurisdiction. The division of Armagh from Tyrone had long been part of a settled policy, and the fact that Tyrone insisted on its reversal should have been warning enough. At the same sitting of the Council Bagenal produced a written statement of his charges against the Earl. The first of these, and the one which would weigh most with the Queen, was that many of Tyrone’s foster-brothers and household servants had joined with Archbishop MacGauran, who was unquestionably the emissary of Rome and Spain, and that Tyrone had nevertheless protected and favoured them. But Bagenal was naturally not ready to prove his case by witnesses then and there, and upon this it was decided not to detain the Earl, although he had come in quite voluntarily and without any condition whatever; ‘and it was resolved, for weighty considerations concerning Her Majesty’s service, that the Earl should not be charged with the said articles at this time, but to be deferred to a more fit time.’

Russell afterwards said that he thought it safer to let him go, because his brother Cormac MacBaron was puffed up by some late successes, and, as tanist, would naturally take advantage of the Earl’s absence and be ready to cut his throat. Tyrone’s submission, too, had been very humble: he had promised to banish the Scots, to appease the rebels, and to give his son as pledge. In fact his humility disappeared as soon as he was clear of the Pale; he neither expelled the Scots nor appeased the rebels, and he never sent his son to Dublin. The evident truth is that Russell, who was new to Ireland, was completely hoodwinked, and that the Council, after the manner of councils, took the course which was easiest for the moment, and sheltered both themselves and the Viceroy behind a formidable list of names.[231]

[Pg 244]

Reverses in Ulster.
Russell relieves Enniskillen.

Fitzwilliam had confessed to Perrott that he received Ireland from him in peace, and that he should do the Queen good service if he could leave it but half as well. Measured by that standard his success had not been great, for he left the island very much disturbed. Ulster was ‘replenished with more treason than we have known it in former times.’ Bingham had bridled Connaught; but O’Rourke was with O’Donnell, and was a constant source of danger. Feagh MacHugh and his crew were traitorously bent, and the arrival of 3,000 Scots in Donegal was likely to aggravate the general peril. After all the fighting in Fermanagh her Majesty had no stronghold left there except Enniskillen, and that was closely besieged. Sir Henry Duke and Sir Edward Herbert were sent with 600 foot and 46 horse to revictual it, but could not, and Sir Richard Bingham went to help them with 200 foot and 50 horse. Before he could arrive, Maguire and Cormac MacBaron had attacked the relieving force at the ford of Drumane on the Arney river, and routed them completely. The convoy fell into the hands of the Irish, and the place was long known as the ‘ford of biscuits.’ This news met Bingham on his way northwards, and he returned to Dublin. The check was a severe one, and Russell lost no time in taking the field himself. His route was by Mullingar, Athlone, Roscommon, and Boyle, over the Curlews. Lough Arrow and Lough Allen were passed on the right hand and Lough Melvin on the left, the dangers of the march being from bogs and flooded rivers rather than from armed opposition. Enniskillen was relieved for that time, and Dublin was reached on the twenty-second day. The return was by way[Pg 245] of Cavan, and the only casualties were from drowning at the passages of the Sillees and the Erne.[232]

To face page 244.
London: Longmans & Co.
Edwd. Weller, lith.
The Queen blames Russell.
Tyrone generally suspected.

Sir Edward Moore of Mellifont, who was on friendly terms with Tyrone, was employed to patch up a truce, and war was deferred until the new year. In the meantime Russell had to bear as best he might the Queen’s severe blame for letting the Earl go, in spite of direct private orders from her. The reasons which he gave were indeed very inconclusive, and it is plain that Tyrone had known how to profit boldly by the moment of weakness which in Ireland has always attended every change of governors in old times, and every vicissitude of party in our own. But opinions were still divided as to Tyrone’s real intentions. Some professed to believe that his animosity was only against Fitzwilliam and Bagenal, but others, if we may judge by the sequel, were less optimistic or better informed. Tyrone’s brother had contributed to the disaster at Enniskillen, and neither he nor the O’Neills who served under him would have acted against the chief’s wish. There was plenty of Spanish gold circulating in Tyrone, and powder was being made there with imported sulphur. In Roman Catholic circles there were great hopes of what the Earl would do, but some feared that he sought an earthly rather than a heavenly kingdom. It was more certain that he had enormously increased his force, and that he was daily enlarging his power over the neighbouring chiefs. He had obtained leave to import a great quantity of lead by way of roofing his house at Dungannon, and that was now available to make bullets. It is difficult to say exactly when Tyrone’s correspondence with Spain began, but some great movement was clearly impending. Jesuits and seminary priests swarmed throughout Ireland, and in any city or town, says one Protestant writer, ‘there is not an Irishwoman nor merchant’s wife throughout the kingdom but refuseth to come to the church,[Pg 246] save that in Dublin a few women, under twenty in all, are not quite fallen from us.’[233]

The Wicklow Highlanders, 1595.
Death of Walter Reagh.

When the Christmas festivities were over, during which the Earl of Kildare tilted at the ring, Russell went into the Wicklow mountains and returned on the third day. Feagh MacHugh was driven from Ballinacor and the house garrisoned, O’Byrne himself, with his wife and the notorious bastard Geraldine, Walter Reagh, being proclaimed traitors. Some heads were brought in, but after a few days Walter Reagh’s brother, Gerald, was out with his followers and burned the village of Crumlin, not three miles from St. James’s gate. The lead was stripped from the church, and carried off to make bullets. The Lord Deputy appeared in Thomas Street, had the gate opened, and sent horse in pursuit, but the mischief was already done. As such insolence could not be allowed to pass, another journey was immediately undertaken, and a camp was formed at Ballinacor. A fort was built, and there was no difficulty in getting a hundred labourers from among the O’Byrnes. But Feagh had plenty of sympathisers. In one place a girl warned six kernes of the approach of soldiers; in another a bag of bullets was found newly cast. Heads came in fast, but straggling foragers from Russell’s camp were sometimes cut off. Ormonde came up from Kilkenny with a large force, and it became evident that Walter Reagh’s career was near its end. One of his brothers was taken by the Kavanaghs, the Gerald who burned Crumlin was killed, and he himself was wounded in attacking the house of Sir Piers Fitzjames Fitzgerald, who was sheriff of Kildare and Ormonde’s kinsman. His leg being almost broken by the blow of a hammer, he was carried by his followers to a cave, and there attended by a native leech, ‘who went every second day to the woods to gather herbs.’ With[Pg 247] the help of this leech Walter’s first cousin, Dermot MacPhelim Reagh, betrayed him to Sir Henry Harrington, and promised also to give up Feagh MacHugh himself. Another O’Byrne, Murrogh MacTeig Oge, is also mentioned as being in the plot. Walter Reagh was brought to Dublin, examined, and hanged alive in chains for twenty-four hours, ‘as a notable example of justice.’ This was Russell’s opinion, but it must be evident that such barbarity could have no real effect, and in fact the Wicklow rebels were soon as strong as ever.[234]

Feagh MacHugh O’Byrne.
Interference of Tyrone in Leinster.

No sooner was Walter Reagh dead than Russell set out again for the disturbed districts of Leinster. A camp formed at Money, between Tullow and Shillelagh, was the Lord Deputy’s headquarters for three weeks, and he visited all the country round, finding time for a little hunting and fishing, and receiving heads of prisoners almost daily. Several companies scoured the Wicklow mountains, but never quite succeeded in catching Feagh MacHugh. But his wife, the famous Rice O’Toole, fell into Harrington’s hands, and a Dublin jury found her guilty of treason. The sentence was death by burning, as if she was considered a witch, but the Queen spared her life. The arrival of Sir John Norris required Russell’s presence in Dublin, preparatory to dealing seriously with Tyrone. Sir Henry had already brought rather more than 2,000 of the Brittany veterans, and the news of their coming kept the North quiet for a moment. Garrisons were left to bridle Wicklow, and it was supposed that the fort at Ballinacor could easily hold out. But Feagh MacHugh had now a thorough understanding with Tyrone, who had promised him 1,000 men—400 from himself, 400 from O’Donnell, and 100 each from Maguire and O’Rourke. The MacMahons had also promised a hundred. These were to be maintained for a year, doubtless with some of the Spanish gold which was circulating in Ulster.[235]

[Pg 248]

Recruiting for the Irish service.
A contractor.
How the horse were raised.

We are now entering upon the great Tyrone war, which cost Queen Elizabeth so many men and so much money. The trained troops at her command were very few, and fresh levies were constantly required. From what took place in one county, we may judge of the method pursued all over England, and gain some idea of the drain upon the scanty population of that time. Gilbert, Earl of Shrewsbury, a great figure among the nobility of that day, was Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire. In March, 1595, he was directed by warrant to make a compulsory levy of 100 men for the Irish service. This was done, and the new company assigned to Captain Nicholas Merriman, the captain and his two subalterns being appointed by the Crown, and not by Lord Shrewsbury, who thought some men were pressed ‘rather for ill will than for any care of the Queen’s service’; nor is the suggestion singular in the correspondence of this period. In the same year Derbyshire had to raise three horsemen for the Irish service, and the cost was compulsorily divided among the gentlemen and freeholders. John Manners of Haddon was assessed at 53s. 4d., while some had to pay only six shillings. In 1596, fifty more men were raised for Ireland. Directions are sometimes given that the arms and uniforms should be bought of particular persons. Captain Merriman, who was a skilled veteran, commended the armour supplied by Mr. William Grosvenor, of Bellport, who was a friend of Shrewsbury, and a ‘follower of the Earl of Essex.’ In April, 1597, twenty-three men were pressed for Ireland; four of them ran away, and the arms of those who did not were so bad that the officers had to buy others from the armourers at Chester. In 1598, 100 men were first levied, and after the disaster at Blackwater fifty more were wanted. These levies were not completed till the spring of 1599; but in 1600 the demands began again. One hundred and fifty were required, but some ran away, and some were inefficient, and there was a further call for fifteen men before the year was out. John Manners was also ordered[Pg 249] to provide one light horseman, with a cuirass and staff, at his own charge, and the county was forced to have carpenters, smiths, and bricklayers among the recruits. In 1601, three horsemen and 110 footmen were raised, and there was a further levy of horse ordered as soon as it was known that Spaniards had landed at Kinsale. About 70 gentlemen and ladies are mentioned as specially contributory to this last call, and again John Manners had to supply a gelding with a good saddle, and a good man to fill it, ‘furnished with a good cuirass and a caske, a northern staff, a good long pistol, a good sword and dagger, and a horseman’s coat of good cloth.’

Unpopularity of the service.
A ragged regiment.

Clothing for foot soldiers was contracted for at 40s. a head. After the victory at Kinsale, we read of no more levies in Derbyshire, but the drain had been severe. Of foot-soldiers alone, some 450 were raised in that single county, from 1595 to 1601, and we may be sure that most of them never returned. Naturally the service was very unpopular; ‘Better be hanged at home than die like dogs in Ireland’ had become a Cheshire proverb. Sometimes it was necessary to ‘set sufficient watch in all the highways, footpaths, and bye-lanes, for the apprehending of such soldiers as shall offer to escape before God sends a wind.’ And it is not difficult to see how Shakespeare made the study for his immortal picture of the ragged regiment with whom Falstaff refused to march through Coventry. ‘You appointed twelve shires,’ said the Mayor of Bristol, ‘to send men here for Cork. We protest unto your lordships, excepting of some two or three shires, there was never man beheld such strange creatures brought to any muster. They are most of them either old, lame, diseased, boys, or common Rodys; few of them have any clothes, small, weak, starved bodies, taken up in fair, market, and highway, to supply the place of better men kept at home. If there be any of them better than the rest we find they have been set forth for malice.... We have done what we could to put able men into silly creatures’ places, but in such sort that they cannot start nor run away.’[236]

[Pg 250]

Officers and adventurers.

But if the Irish service was odious and terrible to the poor conscript, adventurous young gentlemen sought therein the means of retrieving their fortunes and of getting out of scrapes. ‘There is,’ says one such, ‘nothing under the elements permanent. Yesternight I lived with such delight in my bosom, concealing it, that I was for this voyage, that the overmuch heat is now cooled by a storm, and my prayer must be to send better times and fortunes than always to live a poor base justice, recreating myself in sending rogues to the gallows.’ The veterans who had fought and bled in many lands were not anxious to have their places filled by lads, who were brave enough doubtless, but who had everything to learn. Complaints upon this subject are frequent, but no one has told his story better than Captain Bostock, who, having served for eighteen years by sea and land, thought he was entitled to some reward. Bostock was at the siege of Antwerp in 1582, and remained long in the Netherlands, wherever hard knocks were going. Then he commanded a ship commissioned by Henry of Navarre. Afterwards he was in the Netherlands again, under Russell and Vere, and with Lord Willoughby at the siege of Bergen. Then he commanded her Majesty’s pinnace ‘Merlin’ in Portugal, returned to Holland, and served under Essex all the time that he was in France. His next venture was in command of a man-of-war to the West Indies. Then there was more fighting in the Netherlands, and under Fitzwilliam[Pg 251] and Russell in Ireland. In the voyage to the Azores Bostock was captain of a man-of-war, and ‘fought with a carrack every day for twenty days.’ Then he served under Essex at sea and in Ireland, and at the end of it all found that he had spent 1,000l. of his patrimony, and was still without recognised rank. ‘A soldier that is no captain,’ he says, ‘is more to be esteemed than a captain that is no soldier; the one is made in an hour, and the other not in many years, of both which kinds I know many.’[237]

Sir John Norris.
Norris and Russell.
Essex interferes.

Russell had asked for a good officer to help him, but, to his great disgust, the Government sent him a general with absolute authority. A commission, indeed, was to be issued by the Lord Deputy and Council, and for this Russell expressed his thanks; but the terms of it were dictated by the Queen, who fixed upon Sir John Norris as the fittest man for the place. Norris was still Lord President of Munster, but the administration of that province was left to his brother, and he was put over all the forces in Ireland, with almost unlimited authority, for the purpose of pacifying Ulster. His promises of pardon or protection were to be performed as a matter of course by the Lord Deputy and Council. The fame of Norris was deservedly great, and it seems to have been thought, as it has sometimes been thought in our own time, that the mere terror of his name would save the cost of an army. But he was under no such illusion himself, and complained before he left England that Russell was hostile to him. He was in bad health too, and declared that but for that he would post back from Bristol and refute the detractors who began to buzz as soon as his back was turned. The servile herd of courtiers well knew that abuse of Sir John Norris sounded sweet in the Earl of Essex’s ears. The favourite had interfered in the appointment of officers, and was told that the general had accused him of passing over the best men. This Norris denied, declaring that he had always tried to be the[Pg 252] Earl’s friend, and wondering why the latter would always treat him as an enemy.[238]

Arrival of Norris.

Norris landed at Waterford on May 4, after a bad passage, which brought on the ague to which he was subject. He found the season so late that there was no likelihood of much grass before June, and in any case he was unable to ride for some days. Russell civilly begged that he would take his time, and he did not reach Dublin until four weeks after leaving Bristol. While riding near the city his horse fell with him, and this accident brought on a fresh attack of ague. But he saw enough in a very few days to make him realise that the struggle before him was very different from any that had preceded it. The rebels were more in number and better armed than of old, and they had plenty of ammunition. Spanish gold found its way from Tyrone to some gentlemen of the Pale, and something like a panic prevailed. Two thousand good soldiers had hesitated to march ten miles by a tolerable road from Newry to Dundalk, and had clamoured to be sent by water. The like had never been heard of before, and both gentlemen and townsmen for the first time refused even to pass the doors of a church.[239]

The Irish retake Enniskillen.

While Russell waited at Dublin for Norris, Maguire regained possession of Enniskillen. The garrison had been reduced by sickness to fourteen, who were promised their lives; but the English account says the promise was not kept. Monaghan was also threatened, and 1,400 foot and 200 horse were sent to Newry. With this force Bagenal succeeded in victualling the place, but Tyrone greatly harassed the army on its return, killing over thirty and wounding over a hundred; ten barrels of powder were expended and many horses lost. It was said that the Irish engaged were more than 5,000, and that twice or even three times that number were in the neigh[Pg 253]bourhood. The road between Dundalk and Newry was then broken up by Tyrone’s orders. Russell reported that the powder left in the Master of the Ordnance’s hands was less than had been burned in this one day’s work.[240]

Murder of George Bingham.
The Irish seize Sligo.

Sir Richard Bingham had lost no opportunity of warning the Government how necessary it was to seize the passage between Ulster and Connaught; he had made preparations at Sligo for the occupation of Ballyshannon. His plans were frustrated by one of those unexpected acts of treachery in which Irish history abounds. The governor of Sligo, under him, was his cousin, George Bingham the younger, who seems to have depended almost entirely on Irish troops, and especially upon his ensign, Ulick Burke, Clanricarde’s cousin-german and son of that ‘Redmond of the besoms,’ as he was called from his sweeping raids, who had been the actual murderer of Sir John Shamrock. George Bingham had lately made a descent upon Tory Island, which he plundered, and also upon MacSwiney Fanad’s village at Rathmullen, where he sacked the Carmelite monastery. Ulick Burke was left in charge at Sligo, and it seems that he or his Irish followers were offended at not receiving their due portion of the spoil. Sir Richard Bingham admits that they were badly paid, and that all the mischief came from that. At all events George Bingham and eight Englishmen with him were butchered by the treacherous ensign without a word of warning. Ulick had been twice saved from hanging by Bingham, but he gave the signal by stabbing his preserver with his own hand. Sligo, with its guns and stores, was handed over to O’Donnell, and Ulick Burke became his constable. ‘This,’ says Sir Richard, ‘is the worst news ever happened in Connaught in my time.’[241]

[Pg 254]

Tyrone is proclaimed traitor.
A garrison at Armagh.

A week after the disaster at Sligo, Norris started for Newry, whither Russell followed him five days later with 2,200 foot and 550 horse. Tyrone and his adherents were proclaimed traitors at Dundalk, both in English and Irish. The causeway through the Moyry pass had been broken up, but no resistance was offered, and a band of pioneers soon made it practicable. In the presence of the Lord-Deputy Norris disclaimed all power and responsibility, but there was no outward breach between them. Russell reached the Blackwater without serious fighting, and pitched his camp close to Armagh. The church was fortified and made capable of sheltering 200 men, and Tyrone spent his time in burning the houses round about and in razing his own castle of Dungannon. He had intended to make a great stronghold, fortified ‘by the device of a Spaniard that he had with him, but in the end employed those masons that were entertained for builders up, for pullers down of that his house, and that in so great a haste, as the same overnight mustering very stately and high in the sight of all our army, the next day by noon it was so low that it could scarcely be discerned.’ The arrival of cannon at Newry had already taught Tyrone that he could not defend any castle against a regular army, and he afterwards constantly acted upon that principle. Besides making Armagh tenable, Russell again relieved Monaghan. There was constant skirmishing, which cost a good many men, but nothing like a general battle. On his return to Newry the Lord-Deputy very early fell into an ambuscade, but no one was actually hurt except O’Hanlon, who carried the Queen’s colours. The Moyry pass was again found unoccupied, and a council of war was held at Dundalk. Russell announced that he had fulfilled her Majesty’s order, and would now leave Ulster matters to the general, according to his commission, while Bingham should attend to Connaught. Norris said he would do his best; but if his invasion of Tyrone were frustrated by want of provisions, as the Lord-Deputy’s had been, he trusted it should be without imputation to him. ‘And so[Pg 255],’ says the chronicler, ‘every man returned well wearied towards his own dwelling that had any.’[242]

Strained relations between Norris and Russell.

During the expedition Russell wrote to say that he agreed better with Norris than he had at first thought possible. But the general looked at everything upon the darkest side. He accused the Lord Deputy of stretching his conscience to injure him, of detaining letters so as to deprive him of the means of answering them, of making his commission less ample than the Queen had ordered; and he declared, though without actually naming Russell, that his letters to Cecil and Cecil’s to him were certainly opened. He maintained that every obstacle was thrown in his way, and that his private fortune was spent without increase of honour after so many years of service. The means provided were utterly inadequate, since even Russell thought more than 3,000 men necessary for the Ulster war, and scarcely half the number were actually available. ‘I wish,’ he says, ‘it had pleased God to appoint me to follow some other more grateful profession.’[243]

Ormonde and Tyrone.

It was not without many misgivings that the proclamation against Tyrone was allowed to issue, Burghley dreaming almost to the last moment of a pacification by Ormonde’s means. But Ormonde himself had already made up his mind that Tyrone could not be trusted at all, since he had broken his last promises. Nevertheless he went to Dublin, and on arriving there found that the humour had changed.[Pg 256] No commission came for him, and without one he could attempt nothing. His anxiety was lest the Queen should think him lukewarm, whereas his greatest wish, though far beyond his power, was that Tyrone’s and every other traitor’s head should be at her Majesty’s disposal. He rejoiced at the appointment of Sir John Norris, and wished the Queen had many such to serve her. ‘When Tyrone is proclaimed,’ he said, ‘I wish head-money may be promised for him, as I did for the Earl of Desmond, and pardon to be given to such others of the North as will serve against him.’[244]

Bingham foresees disaster.

Bingham came to Dublin to confer with Russell and Norris, and the result was to show clearly how much the work to be done exceeded the available means. The Governor of Connaught said no quiet could be expected in his province until the Ulster rebels were stopped at the Erne. Three whole counties were in revolt, and Clanricarde’s near kinsmen had been engaged in the Sligo massacre, although he himself was loyal. Russell agreed with Bingham, but the majority of the Council were for stumbling along in the old rut. Bingham went back to Athlone, expecting nothing but disaster, and Norris went to Newry with the certain knowledge that he had not men enough to effect anything. First he tried what negotiation would do, and Tyrone sent in a signed paper which he called a submission. He was heartily sorry for his offences, and humbly besought pardon first for himself and all the inhabitants of Tyrone, but also for all his adherents who would give the same assurances, ‘for that since the time I was proclaimed there have passed an oath between us to hold one course.’ This submission was rejected, as it would have practically acknowledged Tyrone’s local supremacy, and of this rejection the Queen quite approved.

Tyrone resists Norris,
who is wounded.

Armagh was victualled without much trouble by Norris in person, and the army then returned to Newry for more provisions. Bagenal succeeded in surprising 2,000 of the enemy’s cows, and Armagh was again reached without fighting. Some days were spent in fortifying and in making[Pg 257] arrangements for a winter garrison, but Norris failed to bring on a general engagement. Tyrone kept to his vantage-ground, but made a great effort to annoy the English at a little pass which cannot be far from Markethill. The baggage was sent on in front and escaped, but the rearguard had to fight their best. There were Scots with Tyrone whose arrows proved very effective, and the Irish horse were much more active than the English. Norris himself was shot in the arm and side, and his horse was hit in four places. His brother Thomas was shot through the thigh, and Captain Wingfield through the elbow. ‘I have a lady’s hurt,’ said Sir John; ‘I pray, brother, make the place good if you love me, and I will new horse myself and return presently; and I pray charge home.’ Two other officers were killed with ten men, and about thirty men were wounded. It does not appear that Tyrone’s losses were much greater, and it was evident that nothing of moment could be done with the forces at hand. Norris told Russell that he ought to send him every man he could scrape together, regular or irregular, leaving pioneers and carriers to follow as they might; and that, if this were not done, he would not be responsible for anything. He sent his brother Henry straight to England, complaining that he had but 150 draught horses, when formerly ten times that number came out of the Pale, and that he was not properly supported in any way. And yet Russell may have done his best. He did detach Thomond with five companies and 145 horse to Newry, besides sending Secretary Fenton to help the wounded general in administrative work. But to get supplies from the unwilling Catholics of the Pale was beyond his power. The gentry had promised to muster 1,000 foot and 300 horse at Kells for the defence of the border, but a month after the trysting-day only one-third of that number had arrived.[245]

[Pg 258]

Death of Tirlogh Luineach O’Neill, 1595.
Tyrone is made O’Neill.

At the moment of this first fight with Tyrone in his character of proclaimed traitor, old Tirlogh Luineach died. He had already resigned the chiefry, but it now suited his successor to drop the mask, and he went at once to Tullahogue to be invested. And yet he was quite ready to renounce the name of O’Neill four months later, though objecting to take an oath on the subject. The annalists say he had been appointed heir ‘ten years before at the Parliament held in Dublin in the name of Queen Elizabeth.’ But it is, of course, quite untrue that Tyrone was made tanist by Act of Parliament, and the Four Masters themselves record that Tirlogh had resigned in his favour more than two years before. In 1587 it had been intended to make Tirlogh Earl of Omagh, and thus to perpetuate the division of Tyrone. The old chief had always realised, in a vague way, that an O’Neill could not stand alone, and had listened without enthusiasm to the bards who called upon him to imitate the legendary heroes of his race, and to make himself monarch of Ireland in spite of the English. The real effect of his death was to make Tyrone chief of Ulster in the popular estimation, as he had long been in real power. He also saw that the Queen would be too strong for him unless he could make foreign alliances, and he strove to excite sympathy abroad by appearing as the head of a Catholic confederacy.[246]

Tyrone has dealings with Spain.
Conditions of peace or war.

Nothing, said the Queen, would more become this base traitor whom she had raised from the dust, than his ‘public confessing what he knows of any Spanish practices, and his abjuration of any manner of hearkening or combining with any foreigners—a course fit in his offers to be made vulgar—that in Spain and abroad the hopes of such attempts may be extinguished.’ Tyrone protested that he never corresponded with Spain before August 20; but this can hardly be true, for in a letter to Don Carlos, written little more than a month[Pg 259] after that date, he complained that the King had returned no answer to frequent previous letters. He begged Philip to send 3,000 soldiers, at whose approach all the heretics would disappear, and the King Catholic be recognised as the sole sovereign of Ireland. Elizabeth shrank from the cost of war and from the suffering which it would bring, and Norris was ordered to negotiate. A general without an army is not usually the most successful of diplomatists, and Sir John had no belief in the work. There were, he said, but two courses open. One was to give Tyrone a free pardon, mainly on condition of his abjuring Spain and the Pope, by which means these potentates would be alienated from him. If there was to be fighting, then he thought it best to leave Connaught alone, and confine himself to Ulster. He demanded a separate treasurer, as Ormonde had in the Desmond times, 5,000l. a month for six months, and 2,000l. more for fortifications, and power to spend the whole as he liked. With this, but not with less, he thought he could post a garrison at Lough Foyle, for like every other competent soldier he maintained that Tyrone could be bridled only by permanent fortresses. The course which seemed easiest and cheapest was taken, and the negotiations began without sincerity on Tyrone’s part, and with a presentiment of failure on that of Norris, who thought force the only remedy.[247]

A truce with Tyrone.

Norris did not himself meet Tyrone, but sent two captains, St. Leger and Warren, who made a truce to last until January 1, and for one month longer should the Lord Deputy desire it. Peace was to be kept on both sides, but none of the points at issue were decided. Tyrone and O’Donnell made separate submissions, upon which great stress was laid; but as they were both in correspondence with Spain, it is clear that their chief object was to gain time. Tyrone further declared his readiness to renounce the title of O’Neill, protesting that he[Pg 260] had assumed it only to prevent anybody else from doing so. Upon these terms, since no better were to be had, the Queen was inclined to pardon the chief rebels; but this only encouraged them to make fresh demands. Burghley in the meantime was advising that money should be sent into Ireland, where he foresaw nothing but trouble. ‘I see,’ he said, ‘a manifest disjunction between the Lord Deputy and Sir John Norris. Sir John was too bold to command the companies in the English Pale for Waterford without assenting of the Deputy, for out of Munster he hath no sole authority. I fear continually evil disasters.’[248]

O’Donnell overruns Connaught.

O’Donnell had in the meantime made himself master of a great part of Connaught. Bingham failed in a determined attempt to retake Sligo, and his nephew, Captain Martin, was killed by an Irish dart, which pierced the joint of his breastplate as his arm was raised to strike. Russell went to Galway, and was received with full military honours; and at first the rebellious Burkes seemed inclined to come to him. But O’Donnell entered the province, and persuaded them to content themselves with a written submission, accompanied by a statement of their complaints against Bingham. They accepted a MacWilliam at the northern chief’s hands, in the person of Theobald Burke, a young man who had just distinguished himself by surprising the castle of Belleek in Mayo, and inflicting great loss on a relieving force led by Bingham’s brother John; and by Christmas there was no county in Connaught, except Clare, in which the inhabitants, or great numbers of them, had not united with O’Donnell.[249]

Negotiations with Tyrone, 1596.
Liberty of conscience demanded

If a peace could be made on anything like honourable terms, Russell was authorised to act without further orders from home, and to pardon every rebel who would come in and submit himself. Wallop and Gardiner, both of whom were thought rather friendly to Tyrone, were sent as com[Pg 261]missioners to Dundalk; but, protection or no protection, Tyrone refused to enter that town. The commissioners were fain to waive the point, and a meeting of five persons on each side was held a mile outside. Swords only were worn, and the greatest distrust was shown. ‘The forces of either side stood a quarter of a mile distant from them, and while they parleyed on horseback two horsemen of the commissioners stood firm in the midway between the Earl’s troops and them, and likewise two horsemen of the Earl’s was placed between them and her Majesty’s forces. These scout officers were to give warning if any treacherous attempt were made on either part.’ Tyrone and his brother Cormac, whom the keener spirits among the O’Neills made tanist in defiance of the Queen’s patent, O’Donnell, Maguire, MacMahon, O’Dogherty, O’Reilly, and many others, were at the meeting or in the immediate neighbourhood. The first article of the Irish demand was ‘free liberty of conscience’—free liberty of conscience for those who were anxious to exchange the sovereignty of Elizabeth for that of Philip II. Free pardons and restoration in blood of all of the northern rebels, the maintenance of Tyrone’s power over his neighbours, the acknowledgment of O’Donnell’s claims in Connaught, a pardon for Feagh MacHugh, and the non-appointment of sheriffs in Ulster, except for Newry and Carrickfergus; these were the other demands, of which they believed the concession would ‘draw them to a more nearness of loyalty.’ They amounted, in truth, to an abrogation of the royal authority in nearly all Ulster, and in a great part of Connaught. The negotiations following lasted eleven days, with growing distrust on both sides, and at last a fresh truce was concluded, for February, March, and April. The terms, in so far as they differed from the former ones, were in favour of Tyrone and O’Donnell. On the very day that the truce was concluded, Russell wrote to complain that the commissioners were too easy with men who made immoderate demands, contrary to their former submissions; and on the next day, as if his words were prophetic, an indignant letter came from the Queen, accompanied by a much-needed remittance of 12,000l. She had good reason to complain that the[Pg 262] more inclined to mercy she showed herself the more insolent the rebels became, and was particularly annoyed at the fact that the commissioners addressed Tyrone and his associates by such titles as ‘loving friends,’ and ‘our very good lord.’[250]

Neither Tyrone nor O’Donnell can be conciliated.
Their pretensions.

So anxious were the commissioners for peace at any price that they withheld the terms on which the Queen was willing to pardon the rebels until the truce was safely concluded. Nor did they venture to show the actual articles sent from England, thinking the chiefs would be less alarmed by conditions of their own devising. Elizabeth held the language of a merciful sovereign, who was ready to pardon rebels, but who had their lands and lives at her mercy. Tyrone had forfeited his patent and should only receive back portions of his estate, while his jurisdiction over his neighbours was ousted altogether. He was to give several substantial pledges, and to send his eldest son to be educated in England. O’Donnell, Maguire, O’Rourke, and the MacMahons were to be treated with separately, and in every case members of their septs who had not rebelled were to have some of their lands. If the Earl held out, efforts were to be made to detach O’Donnell from him. All this was inconsistent with what the chiefs had demanded from the commissioners; and the latter could only give the Queen’s ideas in their own language, and solicit observations from the parties concerned. Tyrone said he was anxious to send over his son, but that his people would not allow him, and, indeed, it is likely that he was afraid of his brother Cormac’s doings as tanist. He had no objection to a gaol, nor to a sheriff—provided that official were an inhabitant of Tyrone—was ready to renounce the name of O’Neill, though not upon oath, and agreed to give reasonable pledges. But he would not consent to a garrison at Armagh, insisting that Tyrone and Armagh should be one county; nor would he bind himself, without the consent of his clansmen, to pay a fine in support of the garrisons at Monaghan, Blackwater, and Newry. O’Donnell was even less accommodating, ironically offering to build a gaol in Donegal, whenever he[Pg 263] agreed to receive a sheriff there. He claimed the county of Sligo as his own, and maintained that O’Dogherty held all his territory of him. Having received these answers, the commissioners returned to Dublin, and when Gardiner went thence to England, the Queen for some time refused to see him.[251]

Confusion in Connaught.

Russell’s journey to Galway had resulted in a truce, but there was no peace in Connaught. Bingham managed to victual Ballymote across the Curlew mountains, but not without the help of three veteran companies, who did all the fighting and lost five officers and fifty men. Boyle and Athlone were threatened, while a MacDermot and an O’Connor Roe were set up, as well as a MacWilliam. At last the Burkes, aided by a party of Scots, having done what damage they could on the Galway side of the Shannon, crossed the river and began to harry the King’s County. The Lord Deputy started without delay, was joined by O’Molloy and MacCoghlan, and fell upon the intruders at daybreak. A hundred and forty were killed or drowned in trying to escape, and Russell then turned to the castle of Cloghan, which was strongly held by the O’Maddens. ‘Not if you were all Deputies,’ they replied, on being summoned to surrender, and added that the tables would probably be turned on the morrow. Russell humanely proposed that the women should be sent out, but the O’Maddens refused. Next morning a soldier contrived to throw a firebrand on to the thatched roof, which blazed up at once. A brisk fusillade was directed upon the battlements, and another fire was lit at the gate, while the assailants made a breach in the wall. Forty-six persons were cut down, smothered, or thrown over the walls, while two women and a boy were saved. The Scots who came over the Shannon had been reported as 400, and Russell made a good deal of his success; but Norris reduced the number of strangers to forty, and spoke with contempt of the whole affair.[252]

[Pg 264]

The Queen on liberty of conscience.
More negotiations.

When the Queen at last consented to hear Chief Justice Gardiner’s account of his proceedings in the North, she expressed great displeasure. The demand for liberty of conscience, she said, was a mere pretext, the result of disloyal conspiracy, and put forward as an excuse for past rebellion more than from any desire to do better in future. Tyrone and the rest had no persecutor to complain of, and what they asked was in reality ‘liberty to break laws, which her Majesty will never grant to any subject of any degree’—a pronouncement which might well have been quoted by the foes of the dispensing power ninety years later. And, as if it were intended to strike Russell obliquely, a new commission was ordered to be issued to Norris and Fenton. They were to meet the rebels during the truce, and to ‘proceed with them to some final end, either according to their submissions to yield them pardons, with such conditions as are contained in our instructions; or if they shall refuse the reasonable offers therein contained, or seek former delays, to leave any further treaty with them.’ And at the same time there was to be a general inquiry into all alleged malpractices in government which might cause men to rebel. Some of the directions to the new commissioners were rather puzzling; but the Lord Deputy and Council refused to suggest any explanation, for that they were ‘left no authority to add, diminish, or alter.’

Russell indeed gave out that he would go to the North himself, and Norris was in despair. ‘The mere bruit,’ he says, ‘will cross us, and I am sure to meet as many other blocks in my way as any invention can find out. I know the Deputy will not spare to do anything that might bring me in disgrace, and remove me from troubling his conscience here.’ Russell, on the other hand, complained that Burghley was his enemy and sought out all his faults. ‘I wish,’ said the old Treasurer, ‘they did not deserve to be sought out.’[253]

Captain Thomas Lee.

Tyrone must have been an agreeable, or at least a persua[Pg 265]sive man, for he often made friends of those Englishmen who came under his personal influence. Such a one was Captain Thomas Lee, who at this juncture made an effort in his favour; saying that he would be loyal ‘if drawn apart from these rogues that he is now persuaded by.’ He would go to England or to the Deputy if he had a safe-conduct straight from the Queen, and Essex and Buckhurst might write to him for his better assurance, since he believed Burghley to be his bitter enemy. Lee confessed that he had not seen Tyrone for some time, and that he founded his opinion upon old conversations; but he was ready to stake his credit, and begged to be employed against the Earl should he fail to justify such an estimate. For having ventured to address the Queen when in England without first consulting Burghley, Lee humbly apologised, and hinted, perhaps not very diplomatically, that a contrary course might have preserved the peace. The Cecils had little faith in Lee’s plausibilities, and it was reserved for Essex to employ him as a serious political agent.[254]

Norris and Fenton go to Dundalk.
A hollow peace follows.

Fenton foresaw that Tyrone and O’Donnell would probably ‘stand upon their barbarous custom to commune with us in the wild fields.’ And so it proved. They refused to come into any town, and proposed a meeting-place near Dundalk, with a river, a thicket, and a high mountain close at hand. This was rejected, and they then suggested that the commissioners should come on to the outer arch of a broken bridge, and back across the water, while they themselves stayed on dry land. This was considered undignified, and indeed the proposal looks like studied impertinence; and in the end it was decided that Captains St. Leger and Warren should act as intermediaries. Tyrone at once waived the claim to liberty of conscience, ‘save only that he will not apprehend any spiritual man that cometh into the country for his conscience’ sake.’ While protesting against the continuance of a garrison at Armagh, he agreed not to interrupt the[Pg 266] communications, and in the end he received a pardon upon the basis of the existing state of affairs. The gaol and the shrievalty were left in abeyance during the stay of the garrison; but the Queen made no objection to Armagh and Tyrone being treated as one county, or to the demand that the sheriff should be a native. The Earl disclaimed all authority to the east of the Bann and of Lough Neogh, and, while renouncing foreign aid, promised to declare how far he had dealt with any foreigner. He refused to give up one of his sons, but surrendered his nephew and another O’Neill as pledges, on condition that they should be exchanged at the end of three months. The Queen, upon whom the cost of the great Cadiz expedition weighed heavily, professed herself satisfied except on one point. Tyrone had promised some time before to pay a fine either of 20,000l. or of 20,000 cows, but he now maintained that the figure had been mentioned for show, and that it was an understood thing that it should not really be paid. The promise had been made to Russell, and Norris had left the matter in doubt. But it must be acknowledged that the Lord Deputy saw the real state of the case more clearly than his sovereign, and he maintained that the rebels were only gaining time till help came from Spain, and that Norris was overreached by ‘these knaves.’ The peace was a feigned one, the pledges were of no account, and there was no safety for the English in Ireland but in keeping up the army.

Russell’s strictures on Norris.

Tyrone and O’Donnell had not met the commissioners at all, and O’Rourke had run away immediately after signing the articles. On the other hand, Norris and Fenton could report that Maguire, with several chiefs of scarcely less importance, had come into Dundalk and made humble submission on their knees. Russell acknowledged that the Queen was put to great expense in Ireland, and that there was very little to show for it, ‘which,’ he urged, ‘is not to be laid to my charge, but unto his who being sent specially to manage the war, and for that cause remaining here about a twelvemonth, hath in that time spent nine months at the least in cessations and treaties of peace, either by his own device contrary to my[Pg 267] liking, as ever doubting the end would prove but treacherous, or else by directions from thence.’[255]

Story of the Spanish letter.

Captain Warren remained with Tyrone for a month after the departure of Norris and Fenton for Dundalk. He then brought with him to Dublin a letter from Philip II. to the Earl, encouraging him to persevere in his valiant and victorious defence of the Catholic cause against the English. Warren promised, and his servant swore, that the letter should be returned or burned without any copy being taken. Tyrone at first vehemently refused to produce it at all, but at last agreed that the Lord Deputy should see it on these terms. Russell at once proposed to keep the document, and the Council supported him; only Norris and Fenton voting against this manifest breach of faith. The Lord Deputy had been blamed for not detaining Tyrone when he might perhaps have done so honourably, and now he was determined not to err in the direction of over-scrupulousness. Warren was naturally indignant at being forced to surrender what he had promised to keep safely, and the official excuses were of the weakest. The Earl was thanked for giving such a proof of his sincerity, and urged to say what verbal messages the Spanish bearer had brought from so notorious an enemy to her Majesty as the King of Spain.

Tyrone retorted that Warren had produced an undertaking, under the hands of the Lord Deputy and Council, to perform whatever he promised, and that they had broken his word and their own, ‘wherein,’ he said, ‘if I be honourably and well dealt with, I shall refer myself to the answer of her most excellent Majesty.’

The whole proceeding was as useless as it was discredit[Pg 268]able, for the letter was quite short, and Norris, after once hearing it read, was able to repeat all that it contained. O’Donnell, who was even more determined than Tyrone upon the plan of war to the knife with Spanish aid, wrote to say that he wished for peace, but could not restrain his men, and that he would give no pledge, ‘inasmuch as Captain Warren performed not his promise in not returning the letter he took with him to Dublin upon his word and credit.’[256]

Spaniards in Ulster.

It was not likely that Tyrone would tell the Government what passed between him and the Spanish messenger Alonso de Cobos; for he took care to see him in the presence only of those he most trusted, such as his brother Cormac, his secretary Henry Hovenden, O’Donnell, and O’Dogherty. The Spanish ship put into Killybegs, where munitions were landed for O’Donnell, but De Cobos came forty miles by land to see Tyrone. An interpreter was necessarily employed, and he told all he knew. Cormac dictated a letter in Irish, reminding the King that he had begun the war, gloating over his successes, and promising wonders if Philip would give him 500 men in pay. The Pope sent beads, stones, and relics, which the interpreter saw, and also an indulgence for flesh every day in war time. The northern Irish, he observed, had but lately taken to fish, butter, and eggs on Fridays and Saturdays. Cormac himself told him that he expected the Spaniards very soon.[257]

Bingham in Connaught.
His severity.
Norris and Bingham.

Immediately after the receipt of the Spanish letter Norris and Fenton set out for Connaught. Tyrone himself had pointed out that the two northern provinces hung together,[Pg 269] and the understanding between the western and northern chiefs was at this time pretty close. The Burkes insisted that all their quarrel was with Bingham and his kinsfolk only, and Norris was ready to believe the charges against him of injustice in his government, and of seizing the lands of those who opposed him. Of Bingham’s severity there can be little doubt; but he had ruled cheaply and successfully, and it was not his fault if O’Donnell’s road into Connaught was still open. In August 1595 the hostages in Galway gaol knocked off their irons after a drinking-bout, and passed through the open gate of the town. They found the bridge held against them, and on trying to cross the river they were intercepted by the soldiers on the other bank. All who escaped instant death were recaptured. Bingham sent a warrant to hang all the prisoners who had taken part in the attempt, and hanged they accordingly were—Burkes, O’Connors, and O’Flaherties from the best houses in Connaught. To mutinous soldiers Bingham showed as little mercy. Some recruits in Captain Conway’s company made a disturbance at Roscommon, and Bingham ordered that the mutineers should be brought to the gallows, as if for execution, and then spared. This was done, but next day things were worse than ever, and a ringleader, named Colton, threatened Conway and took the colour from his ensign’s hand. Captain Mostyn, whose company was also tainted, was knocked down, and the mutiny was not quelled until over thirty men were hurt. Bingham hanged Colton promptly, and most soldiers will think that he did right. But Norris had made up his mind that Connaught could be pacified by gentle means, and his hand was heavy against Bingham, especially as Russell seemed inclined to shield him. Sir Richard, on the contrary, pleaded that all his arguments had been overruled in Dublin, that he had not been allowed to defend his province for fear of hindering the negotiations in Ulster, and that the reinforcements sent to him were a ‘poor, ragged sort of raw men.’ Everything had turned out as he foretold, and he had never asked for money from Dublin until the neglect of his warnings had encouraged a general revolt. O’Donnell had exacted 1,200l. sterling[Pg 270] from the county of Sligo since the castle there was betrayed, and his brother plundered Connaught with a rabble of Scots, while he himself helped to amuse the commissioners at Dundalk. ‘I think,’ he said, ‘this is partly scarcity of meat at home, the people of the North being always very needy and hungry.’ The Irish Council, he declared, wished to draw all eyes upon Connaught so as to hide their own failures; and as for his provincials they had a thousand times better treatment than they deserved, for their real object was to re-establish tanistry and its attendant barbarism.[258]

Charges against Bingham,

Finding the Lord General favourable to them, the Mayo Burkes plied him hard with charges against Bingham ‘and his most cruel and ungodly brother John.’ They had seized most of the cattle, it was urged, upon various pretences, and in three years had become possessed of many castles and of 200 ploughlands, offering no title ‘but a high gallows to the possessor.’ ‘Her Majesty’s clemency,’ they said, ‘is better known to strange nations than to us her poor misers, being altogether racked and governed by the Binghams, the dregs of all iniquity, here in culâ mundi far from God and our sovereign.’

Bingham came to Dublin, and both he and Norris, who agreed in nothing else, were loud in their complaints of official inaction. He strongly maintained, and he certainly was right, that the Queen’s true policy was to separate the two rebellious provinces and not to include them in the same treaty. The Dundalk articles now made it impossible to garrison Ballyshannon, and Sligo was the next best thing. The Connaught rebels, he said, ‘will seek to retain their titles of Macs and O’s with their unhonest law, even as Ulster does.’ But Norris was probably right in believing that there would be no peace between Bingham and the Burkes, since they were ‘so much embrued in each other’s blood;’ and when he went to Connaught the accused governor was detained in Dublin by[Pg 271] Russell, lest the sight of him should hinder the negotiations at Galway or Athlone. Bingham took care to remind Burghley that the composition was better both for Crown and subject than anything yet devised, ‘for the Irish lord is the greatest tyrant living, and taketh more regality by the tanist law than her Majesty doth, or ever did, by her princely prerogative.’

who leaves Ireland suddenly.

The summer passed in futile diplomacy, while O’Donnell lived upon the western province and spared his own country. ‘If Bingham,’ said the Queen, ‘appear guilty, he shall be removed; but we must not condemn a governor unheard and without good proof.’ Tired of waiting, the suspected chief commissioner left Ireland without leave, on September 25, and on his arrival in London was committed to the Fleet.[259]

Catholic confederacy,
and general attack
on English settlers.

It suited the Queen to take an optimistic view of the situation, but the confederacy against her was spreading gradually over all Ireland. The Connaught rebels put Norris off from month to month and from week to week, while the Ulster chiefs used the respite afforded them to draw in Munster, with which the Clan Sheehy, the old Desmond gallowglasses, gave a ready means of communication. Tyrone had just received full pardon, yet he wrote as follows:—

‘We have given oath and vow that whosoever of the Irishry, especially of the gentlemen of Munster, or whosoever else, from the highest to the lowest, shall assist Christ’s Catholic religion, and join in confederacy and make war with us... we will be to them a back or stay, warrant or surety, for their so aiding of God’s just cause, and by our said oath and vow, never to conclude peace or war with the English, for ourselves or any of us, during our life, but that the like shall be concluded for you, &c.’

Many of the scattered settlers in Munster were murdered about this time, and it was upon the property of Englishmen only that the MacSheehys and other robbers maintained themselves. In Tipperary, says the Chief Justice of Munster, there was ‘a school of thieving of horses and cows where boys[Pg 272] from every Munster county, some the bastard sons of the best of the country,’ were trained in this patriotic exercise. The master and usher and seven of their pupils were tried and hanged. Care was taken that Protestant clergymen should not go scathless. One James, parson of Kilcornan near Pallaskenry, was visited by a party of swordsmen, but they were under protection and he unsuspectingly offered them refreshments. Nevertheless they murdered poor James, wounded three other Englishmen, and burned down the house; the leader swearing upon his target that he would never again seek protection, nor ‘leave any Englishman’s house unburned nor himself alive.’ The same spirit was shown in the inland parts of Leinster, where Owen MacRory O’More was specially protected by Russell’s order; but this did not prevent him from making a perfectly unprovoked attack upon Stradbally. Alexander Cosby, whose father had been slain at Glenmalure and who was himself married to a Sidney, sallied out with his two sons and the kerne under his orders. A fight took place on the bridge and the Irish were driven off, but Cosby and his eldest son fell. Dorcas Sidney (‘for she would never allow herself to be called Cosby’) and her daughter-in-law watched the fight out of a window and saw their husbands killed. In southern Leinster the death of Walter Reagh had not quite destroyed the old Geraldine leaven, and some of the Butlers were also engaged, greatly to Ormonde’s indignation. Whatever Tyrone’s own ideas were about religion, it is quite evident that out of his own district he was regarded as the leader of a crusade. The new English in Ireland were Protestants, and the instinctive horror of the natives for settlers whose notions about land were irreconcilable with their own was sedulously encouraged by priests and friars.[260]

[Pg 273]

The soldiers are disorderly and oppressive,

Elizabeth persisted in believing Tyrone’s professions, only because she saw no way of forcibly subduing ‘him whom she had raised from the dust.’ She was ‘greedy,’ said her secretary, ‘of that honourable course’; but Russell, who advocated the reduction of Tyrone, forgot to say how it was to be done. It was more clear to her that there was much oppression and extortion, and that her poor subjects in Ireland had a right to complain. The intolerable tyranny of sheriffs, provost-marshals, and other officers was the constant complaint from Ulster and Connaught; but those provinces were confessedly in a state of armed peace at best, and much might be said upon both sides. In Leinster and Munster the charges were more definite, and are more easily understood. They may be summed up in a declaration on the part of the inhabitants of the Pale that ‘the course of ranging and extorting is become so common and gainful as that many soldiers (as is said) have no other entertainment for their captains; and many that are not soldiers, pretending to be of some company or other, have, in like outrageous sort, ranged up and down the country, spoiling and robbing the subjects as if they were rebels. And most certain it is that the rebels themselves, pretending to be soldiers, and knowing how gainful the course is, have often played the like parts.’

owing to irregular payment.

Real soldiers were so terrible that the poor people had no heart to resist even sham ones, and so the country went from bad to worse. The very fruit trees were cut down to feed barrack fires, and houses, if the wretched inmates deserted them to avoid their oppressors, were demolished for the same purpose. Very severe orders were issued, rape and theft being made capital offences, and these were not suffered to remain a dead letter; but the next Viceroy did not find that matters had been much improved. In Munster also there was plenty of military violence, and even lawyers, while complaining that the gown was quite subordinate to the sword, could not but acknowledge that sheriffs and gaolers[Pg 274] were as bad as the soldiers. It is easy to see, and it is proved by a cloud of witnesses, that most of these horrors were caused by irregular payment of the troops, nor does Burghley himself leave us in any doubt. ‘I cannot,’ he says, ‘forbear to express the grief I have to think of the dangerous estate of her Majesty’s army in Ireland, where all the treasure sent in August is expended.’ Besides pensioners and supernumeraries, there were 7,000 regular soldiers, for which the monthly charge was 8,560l. sterling, which necessary reinforcements would soon increase to 10,422l. ‘for which the treasurer hath never a penny in Ireland.’ And it was certain that the increase would be progressive. ‘What danger this may be I do tremble to utter, considering they will force the country with all manner of oppressions, and thereby the multitude of the Queen’s loyal subjects in the English Pale tempted to rebel.’[261]

Feagh MacHugh is hunted down,
and beheaded.

In November, 1595, Feagh MacHugh came to Dublin and submitted on his knees. The Queen was inclined to pardon him, but his terms were not at first considered reasonable. If confirmed in his chiefry, he professed himself ready to restrain his people, to attend assizes like other gentlemen, and to kneel before the Queen herself, ‘which I more desire than anything in the world.’ Even this rough mountaineer, who pointed out to Elizabeth that his property was not worth confiscating, had caught the prevailing tone of flattery. Nevertheless Feagh remained in close alliance with Tyrone, and in September 1596 he struck a blow which undid most of Russell’s work in Leinster. Elizabeth had in the end agreed to pardon him, with his wife, sons, and followers, to confirm him in his chiefry by patent, and even to restore Ballinacor, which she found a very expensive possession. Eight days after this was decided at Greenwich, Feagh wrote to Tyrone, offering to trouble the English well, and begging for a company of good shot; and a month later he surprised Ballinacor.[Pg 275] After this there was no further talk of pardon, and Russell pursued the old chief to the death. A new fort was built at Rathdrum, and Captain Lee, who was perhaps anxious to efface the memory of his ill-success with Tyrone, scoured the mountains during the winter. Cattle by the score and heads by the dozen were collected, and the end may as well be told at once. One Sunday morning in the following May Feagh was forced into a cave, ‘where one Milborne, sergeant to Captain Lee, first lighted on him, and the fury of our soldiers was so great as he could not be brought away alive; thereupon the said sergeant cut off Feagh’s head with his own sword and presented his head to my lord, which with his carcase was brought to Dublin... the people all the way met my lord with great joy and gladness, and bestowed many blessings on him for performing so good a deed, and delivering them from their long oppressions.’ The head and quarters of this formidable marauder were exhibited upon Dublin Castle, and a sympathiser says the sight pierced his soul with anguish. Four months after, one Lane brought what purported to be the head to Essex, who sent him to Cecil for his reward. Cecil said head-money had already been paid in Ireland, and Lane gave the now worthless trophy to a lad to bury, who stuck it in a tree in Enfield chase, where it was found by two boys looking for their cattle. The Four Masters say Feagh was ‘treacherously betrayed by his relatives,’ for the O’Byrnes of the elder branch had never acquiesced in the dominion of the Gaval-Rannall. Thus one by one did the chiefs of tribal Ireland devour each other.[262]

Complete failure of Norris in Connaught.

Norris remained in Connaught from the beginning of June until the week before Christmas, and Fenton was with him most of the time. Nothing of any importance was done, and when their backs were turned O’Donnell entered the province and the rebellion blazed up more fiercely than ever. The Burkes and their immediate allies had 2,000 men, be[Pg 276]sides the help of O’Donnell, Tyrone, and Maguire, and it was reckoned that an army of more than 3,000 was required for Connaught alone. Bingham’s ideas about cutting it off from Ulster by garrisons on the Erne were fully adopted, and the possession of Ballyshannon becomes henceforth a main object with successive governments. Yet Bingham himself was in disgrace, and Sir Conyers Clifford, a distinguished soldier whose Cadiz laurels were still green, was made governor in his room. The Irish annalists tell us that he was a much better man than his predecessor, but such praise did not make his work any easier. That Bingham was severe and even harsh is certain, that he was sometimes unjust is at least probable, and there is no reason to doubt that he was greedy about land; but he was efficient, and in the eyes of Irish chiefs and of their panegyrists that was the really unpardonable sin.[263]

Dissension between Russell and Norris,
of which Tyrone takes advantage.

‘I am quite tired,’ says Camden, ‘with pursuing Tyrone through all his shifts and devices.’ He had received his pardon in the early summer, and had spent the rest of the year in trying to forfeit it. Russell was not deceived, and he asked to be recalled, complaining bitterly that he was not credited, while Norris was ‘authorised to proceed in a course of pacification which, in the opinion of the Deputy and most part of the Council, did tend directly to her Majesty’s disadvantage, and the gaining of time to the said rebels,’ who were on the look-out for help from Spain. In the meantime there was no lack of pretexts on either side for imputing bad faith to the other. Frontier garrisons were always involved in disputes, and blood was sometimes shed. As the winter advanced Tyrone became bolder, and at last tried to surprise the Armagh garrison, whose communications he had been threatening for some time, although he had specially covenanted not to do so. Marauding bands entered the Pale, and at Carlingford, though they failed to capture the castle, they carried off Captain Henshaw’s daughters, ‘the one married and the other a maid,’ as prisoners to the mountains. Tyrone[Pg 277] was himself present at the Armagh affair, where thirty-five soldiers were killed, but he pleaded that promise had not been kept with him, and that soldiers had committed outrages. He had even the impudence to pretend that the prosecution of Feagh MacHugh was such a breach of faith, though Feagh had not been included in the Dundalk treaty, and though he had attacked Ballinacor while his pardon was in preparation. Being threatened with the execution of hostages and with a new proclamation of treason, which would annul the pardon, the Earl thought it safer to yield for the time. At Christmas he threatened Newry with 5,000 men, but on the arrival of Norris there, he allowed Armagh to be revictualled. Tyrone quite understood that there was great jealousy between Russell and Norris, and he endeavoured to play off one against the other. Sir John constantly complained that the Lord-Deputy thwarted him in every possible way, and the latter as constantly denied the charge with much indignation; but he showed some rather small spite in refusing to allow Norris to send letters by his messengers. This division of authority could scarcely work well, and in the autumn of 1596 it was proposed to recall both rivals and to send Lord Burgh over with supreme authority; but the project was allowed to sleep for some months.[264]

More negotiations;
but the Queen’s patience is nearly exhausted.

As soon as Armagh had been victualled, the negotiations[Pg 278] began again. If Tyrone could complain that his hostages had not been exchanged according to the Dundalk articles, Norris and Fenton could reply that he had never given his eldest son according to promise. Once he appeared in person, and, with hat in hand, made his accustomed professions of loyalty. The latest communications with Spain had been O’Donnell’s offer, and not his; but he had not again rejected Philip’s overtures because the English had not kept their promises to him. He said he had written three letters to Spain; but he knew that these had been intercepted, and he forgot that he had alluded in them to many previous appeals. He altogether denied that he had incited Munster men to rebel, but he did not know that his letter sent by the MacSheehys had also been intercepted. Nevertheless Elizabeth was still ready to treat, but she told the Commissioners that her patience was nearly exhausted and that she was preparing for war. They accordingly fixed April 16 as the last day of grace, but Tyrone refused to come. He said that Norris might be overruled by Russell, who showed malice to him, and moreover Lord Burgh, about whom he knew nothing, was coming over as Deputy, who might not be as good to him as the Lord General had been. Finally, he suggested April 26 for a meeting, but this was treated as a mere evasion, and Norris returned to Dublin. Hostilities were, nevertheless, suspended throughout May and June, during which interval the change of viceroys was effected.[265]

Bingham is in disgrace.

Sir Richard Bingham lay more than two months in prison, and was then released on account of ill-health, although still considered under arrest. It was decided that he should return to Ireland, and the Queen refused to give him an audience. The charges of the Burkes against him and his were ordered to be tried at Athlone, before Norris, Fenton, and two other councillors. Clifford was to be present, though only as a spectator. Ill as he was, Bingham embarked, but was driven back, and had to recruit his strength by staying at Beaumaris. It became unnecessary that he should go at all,[Pg 279] for news came that the peacemaking of Sir John Norris, whom he calls his ‘most intollerablest’ persecutor, had quite failed, and that Sir Conyers Clifford was going to govern a province whose condition grew daily worse. O’Donnell entered Connaught as usual through Leitrim, and, accompanied by his MacWilliam, plundered O’Connor Sligo’s adherents, and reached Athenry, which was carried by escalade. The place was laid in ashes, and the people left houseless and naked. The invaders—3,000 foot and 200 horse—then went to Galway; but here they could do no more than burn some of the suburbs, ‘for a great piece of ordnance scattered them, and, clustering again, another greater piece was let fly, which utterly daunted them.’ The rebels threatened Galway with the fate of Athenry as soon as the Spaniards came, and then proceeded to ravage the open country. Clanricarde’s castles were not attacked, but throughout the north-eastern part of the county there was scarcely a cottage, a stack, or a barn left unburned, and a vast booty was carried off into Donegal. ‘We bear the same,’ said Clanricarde, ‘most contentedly, for our most gracious Princess, from whom we will never swerve for any losses or afflictions whatsoever.’ Kells was burned at the same time by the O’Reillys, and everyone who knew the country saw that worse was coming. ‘It was plain,’ said Bingham, ‘that his removal would not quiet Connaught, nor any other alteration in government there, but rather the expelling of all the English, which is generally required throughout Ireland.’[266]


[230] Russell to Cecil, Aug. 16, 1594, and to the Privy Council, Aug. 17; Ormonde to Burghley, Aug. 19; Russell’s Journal in Carew, June to August.

[231] Submission and answers of Tyrone, Aug. 15 and 17, 1594; informations preferred by Sir Henry Bagenal, Aug. 17; Ormonde to Burghley, Aug. 19; Resolution of Council, Aug. 17, signed by Russell, Loftus, C., Jones, Bishop of Meath, Ormonde, Gardiner, C.J., Napper, C.B., A. St. Leger, M.R., R. Bingham, T. Norris, R. Dillon, G. Bourchier, M.O. The letter of the 19th to the Privy Council has the same signatures with the addition of Secretary Fenton’s. Russell’s additional reasons, some of them after-thoughts perhaps, are in a paper later than Oct. 31. The defeat of Duke and Herbert at Enniskillen may have frightened some of the Council. Captain Thomas Lee, in his declaration already quoted (p. 112), tells the Queen that Tyrone ‘came in upon the credit of your state,’ but this is quite contrary to the evidence.

[232] Summary collection of the state of Ireland by Sir W. Fitzwilliam and the Council, Aug. 1594; order by Lord Deputy Russell and Council, Aug. 13; Russell to Cecil, Aug. 16; Russell’s Journal in Carew, Aug. and Sept. O’Sullivan, tom. iii. lib. 2, cap. 11. The Four Masters are somewhat incorrect, for Enniskillen was not taken by Maguire till May 1595; their information fails them for the later months of 1594.

[233] Russell’s Journal in Carew, Sept. to Dec. 1594; the Queen to the Lord Deputy and Council, and a separate letter to Russell, Oct. 31. A paper containing ‘presumptions’ against Tyrone’s loyalty belongs to the latter month of 1594, and the writer, who is evidently well informed, does not specify any actual communication between Tyrone and Spain. O’Sullivan says O’Donnell sent Archbishop O’Hely to Spain immediately after the loss of Enniskillen in February (tom. iii. lib. 2, cap. 8), and this is confirmed by Walter Reagh’s examination, April 9, 1595, who said O’Hely had gone to Spain long before.

[234] Russell to Burghley and to the Privy Council, April 8, 1595; Lord Deputy and Council to the Privy Council, April 10; Sir H. Harrington to Burghley, April 10; Russell’s Journal in Carew, Jan. 16, 1595, to April 10, on which day Walter Reagh was hanged. Four Masters, 1595; O’Sullivan, tom. iii. lib. 2, cap. 9.

[235] Examination of Walter Reagh, April 9, 1595, by which it appears Tyrone was intriguing with Feagh early in March; Russell’s Journal in Carew, April and May; Lord Deputy and Council to the Privy Council, April 10.

[236] The details about Derbyshire are from the Belvoir MSS. in the appendix to the 12th report of the Historical MSS. Commission, vol. i. pp. 326-381; Mayor of Barnstaple to Cecil, Aug. 24, 1602; Mayor of Chester, Sept. 14 and Oct. 22 and 24, 1602; Mayor of Bristol to the Privy Council, May 29, 1602. The letters from these mayors are all at Hatfield. On Sept. 18, 1595, Burghley tells his son Robert that he knows how to provide horse for Ireland at the expense of the clergy, and this levy was made; Hugh Bellott, Bishop of Chester, to Burghley, March 13, 1596. Commissary Peter Proby writes to Burghley from Chester on April 10, 1596, that the recruits malingered and threw away arms and clothes rather than sail, and that it might be necessary to send them on board pinioned. There are many details about recruiting for Ireland in Peck’s Desiderata Curiosa. In 1584 the Queen ordered some recusants, who professed themselves loyal in all but religion, to furnish certain men, or 23l. in lieu of each man. If they obeyed cheerfully, she said, she might perhaps ‘qualify some part of the extremity that otherwise the law doth lay upon them.’

[237] George Manners to his father (John Manners) and to Edward Whittock in Belvoir Papers, May 15 and June 27, 1600; Captain Ralph Bostock to Cecil, 1600, MS. Hatfield.

[238] Sir John Norris to Cecil, April 14, 1595, from Rycott; to Burghley, April 29, and to the Privy Council, May 2, from Bristol; to Cecil, May 3, from on board ship; Russell to Cecil, May 23; Essex to Norris and the latter’s answer, Aug. 13; MSS. Hatfield, ending with ‘your Lordship’s as shall be fit for me.’ The commission is in Carew (No. 160).

[239] Russell’s Journal in Carew, May 1595; Norris to Cecil, May 8; to Burghley and to Cecil, May 29.

[240] Russell to Cecil, May 23, 1595; Bagenal to Burghley, May 29; and Russell’s letter of June 27; Report by Lieutenants Tucker and Perkins in Carew, June 1.

[241] Bingham to Russell, June 6, 1595; O’Sullivan (tom. iii. lib. 3, cap. 3) does not seem to see any inconsistency between what he says of the Irish soldiers being ‘prædâ fraudati,’ and of the Englishmen who ‘vel occisi, vel fugâ salutem petentes devastatæ religiosæ domus Carmelitarum pœnas sacrilegii luerunt.—Four Masters, 1595. Many English writers confuse this George Oge Bingham, who was Sir Richard’s cousin, with the elder George, who was his brother.

[242] Journal of the late journey by the Lord Deputy from June 18 to July 17, 1595; Russell’s Journal in Carew, June and July. The Four Masters substantially agree. The proclamation against Tyrone, O’Donnell, O’Rourke, Maguire, MacMahon and others is among the State Papers, ‘imprinted in the cathedral church of the Blessed Trinity, Dublin, by William Kearney, printer to the Queen’s most excellent Majesty, 1595’; see also Carew under June 28 (which is probably wrong). O’Donnell, ‘whose father and predecessors have always been loyal,’ is represented as Tyrone’s dupe, and the Queen desires that he should be ‘entertained secretly with hope, for that we have a disposition to save him.’ The English Government had now discovered that Tyrone’s father was a bastard; it used to be the O’Neills who said so. He was proclaimed traitor at Dundalk on June 23, and at Newry on the 26th.

[243] Russell to Burghley, July 14, 1595; Norris to Burghley, Aug. 1 and 3, and to Cecil, July 4 and 20 and Aug. 1.

[244] Ormonde to Burghley, April 3, 1595, in answer to his letter of March 21, also April 7. Some drafts of the proclamation are as early as April 10.

[245] The fight in which Norris was wounded took place on Sept. 4, 1595. O’Sullivan says it was at ‘Pratum Fontis’ or Clontubrid near Monaghan, but that is certainly wrong. Bagenal, who was closely engaged himself, writing to Burghley on Sept. 9, says ‘nine miles from Newry,’ on the direct road from Armagh. See also Captain F. Stafford’s report on Sept. 12. There is a good account dated Sept. 16 in Payne Collier’s Trevelyan Papers, vol. ii. Tyrone’s submission, Aug. 22; Norris to Burghley, Aug. 25, and Sept. 8 and 10; to Russell, Sept. 16; Russell to Burghley, Sept. 14, and to the Privy Council, Sept. 21.

[246] Four Masters, 1593 and 1595, with O’Donovan’s notes; Morrin’s Patent Rolls 29 Eliz.; Philip O’Reilly to Russell, Sept. 14, 1595.

[247] Privy Council to Russell, Sept. 12, 1595; Tyrone and O’Donnell to Philip II, and to Don Carlos, Sept. 27. Piers O’Cullen, the priest, on whom the letters to Spain were found, broke his neck trying to escape from Dublin Castle (Fenton to Burghley, Jan. 12, 1596). Copies of the above are in Carew. Norris’s letters to Burghley on Sept. 8, 10, and 27, and the abstract of his letters sent by Sir Henry, with Burghley’s remarks.

[248] Papers in Carew, Sept. 27 to Oct. 28, 1595; Burghley to his son Robert, Dec. 2, 1595, and Jan. 2, 1596.

[249] Four Masters, 1595; Russell’s Journal, Nov. and Dec. Writing to Cecil on Oct. 22, Norris says the overthrow near Belleek was shameful, the Burkes being a ‘mean sort of beggars’ and neither Tyrone nor O’Donnell near. See also O’Sullivan, tom. iii. lib. 3, cap. 3 and 4.

[250] The negotiations are detailed in the Carew papers for January 1596, and in Russell’s Journal; and see Cecil to Russell, March 9.

[251] Articles sent from England, Sept. 28, 1595; Articles propounded by the Commissioners, Jan. 28-30, 1596, both in Carew; Cecil to Russell, March 9.

[252] Russell’s Journal for March 1596, mentions 300 or 400 Scots. Tribes and Customs of Hy Many, p. 149. Norris’s letter of March 20 gives some details, and also Fenton’s to Cecil of same date.

[253] The Queen to the Lord Deputy and Council, March 9, 1596; Instructions for the Commissioners, March 11; Burghley to his son Robert, March 30 (in Wright’s Elizabeth); Norris to Cecil, March 23, and Fenton to Cecil, April 10.

[254] Captain Thomas Lee to Burghley, April 1, 1596; Cecil to Russell, July 10, ‘Captain Lee doth pretend he could do much, &c.’ Lee went to Tyrone accordingly, but did nothing. His Geraldine neighbours seem to have taken this opportunity of burning a village belonging to him.

[255] The effect of her Majesty’s pleasure with Tyrone’s answer, April 12, 1596; Fenton to Cecil, April 10, and Norris and Fenton to the Privy Council, April 23; Russell to Burghley, April 27; the Queen to the Lord Deputy and Council, May 25; Russell to the Queen, May 16 and June 30, MSS. Hatfield. Writing to Russell on Nov. 22, 1595, Tyrone promised to levy a fine of 20,000 cows on himself and his allies; the Government had demanded 20,000l. Tyrone’s pardon (see Morrin’s Patent Rolls) is dated May 12, 1596, and he received it a few weeks later. It included the Earl’s relations and all the inhabitants of Tyrone, his astute secretary, Henry Hovenden, being included by name.

[256] Philip II. to Tyrone, Jan. 22, 1596, N.S.; Norris to Cecil, June 1 (the Spanish letter was produced in Council, May 31); Lord Deputy and Council to Tyrone, June 1; Russell to Burghley, June 2; Tyrone to the Lord Deputy and Council, June 11; O’Donnell to Norris, June 26, and another undated one of the same month. We know from Henry Hovenden’s letter to Tyrone on June 27 (in Carew) that the latter had advised O’Donnell to ‘take hold of Captain Warren’s dealing, &c.’

[257] Rice ap Hugh to Russell, May 18; John Morgan to Russell, May 21; Information of George Carwill taken at Newry on June 21. Tyrone met the Spaniard at Lifford. Writing to Norris on May 6, Tyrone and O’Donnell say they told the Spanish gentleman that they had been received to their Prince’s favour and would have no foreign aid.

[258] Four Masters, 1595; Captains Conway and Mostyn to the Privy Council, April 12, 1596; Norris to Cecil, April 23 and 25; Bingham to Burghley, April 22. Norris says that Russell, though really hostile to Bingham, tried to prevent inquiries, in order to keep him (Norris) out of Connaught and leave the government there to a tool of his own.

[259] Norris to Burghley, May 4 (with enclosure), and May 16, 1596; Russell to Burghley, May 16 and June 9; Bingham to Burghley, May 18 and June 11. Bingham came to Dublin on May 8.

[260] Translation of Irish letter signed O’Neill (not Tyrone), O’Donnell, O’Rourke, and Theobald Burke (MacWilliam), July 6, 1596; Chief Justice Saxey’s advertisements, January 1597, in Carew; Russell’s Journal, 1596; Joshua Aylmer to Sir J. Norris, April 26, 1596; William Cosby to Russell, May 19, 1596, and an interesting note in O’Donovan’s Four Masters; see also ‘Report concerning O’Donnell’s purposes’ to Russell by Gillaboy O’Flanagan (long prisoner with O’Donnell) May 12; ‘Words spoken by MacDonnell’ (chief of Tyrone’s gallowglasses) to Baron Elliott, June 15; Edmond and Edward Nugent to Russell, June 20; and ‘Occurrents in Wexford,’ June 26. As to Spanish and papal designs on Ireland about this time see Birch’s Memoirs, ii. 153, 177, 180.

[261] Burghley to his son Robert, Oct. 31, 1596, in Wright’s Elizabeth; Orders for the soldiers, April 18, 1596; Declaration of the state of the Pale, June 1597, and Chief Justice Saxey’s declaration already quoted, all in Carew. The Four Masters absurdly say that Norris had 20,000 men with him in Connaught this year.

[262] Four Masters, 1597. For the Enfield head see the examination of John Dewrance before Richard Chandler, J.P. for Middlesex, Sept. 21, 1597, MS. Hatfield; Russell’s Journal, and the letters in Carew for August, September, and December, 1596. Feagh was killed May 8, 1597; see also his own letter to Burghley, April 25, 1596.

[263] Russell’s Journal; Declaration by the Lord Deputy and Council (including Norris and Fenton) in Carew, No. 261, soon after Christmas 1596.

[264] Calendar of S. P. Domestic, Sept. 30 and Dec. 22, 1596; Letters in Carew from Nov. 30 to Dec. 9. On Aug. 10 Tyrone wrote to Russell that he was surprised at his reasonable offer of peace not being accepted; this was a month after his incendiary letter to the Munster chiefs. Russell answered that peace with his sovereign was a ‘proud word,’ and that he was sent to ‘cherish the dutiful and correct the lewd, of which number thou art the ringleader... thy popish shavelings shall not absolve thee’ (MSS. Lansdowne, vol. lxxxiv). Petition of Sir W. Russell in Carew, 1596, No. 253. As to the letters see Burghley to his son Robert, March 30, 1596, in Wright’s Elizabeth and elsewhere. On Oct. 22, 1596, Anthony Bacon wrote to his mother ‘that from Ireland there were cross advertisements from the Lord Deputy on the one side, and Sir John Norris on the other, the first as a good trumpet, sounding continually the alarm against the enemy, the latter serving as a treble viol to invite to dance and be merry upon false hopes of a hollow peace, and that these opposite accounts made many fear rather the ruin than the reformation of the State, upon that infallible ground, quod omne regnum divisum in se dissipabitur’; which sums up the situation very well.—Birch’s Memoirs, ii. 180.

[265] These abortive negotiations are pretty fully detailed in Fynes Moryson’s Itinerary, part ii. book i. ch. i. under 1596; Russell’s Journal.

[266] Clanricarde to Russell, Jan. 15, 1597; Oliver French, mayor of Galway, to Russell, Jan. 19; Bingham to Sir R. Gardiner, Jan. 20 and 27. These four letters are printed in Wright’s Elizabeth. Russell’s Journal; Four Masters, 1596 and 1597; the Queen to the Lord Deputy and Council, Dec. 4, 1596, in Morrin’s Patent Rolls, under 39 Eliz.: ‘As to the proceeding for the examination of the complaint against Bingham and the trial thereof, we think it meet that, after the complaints shall be made privy of our hard usage of him here, and the remitting of him to be tried in Connaught, &c.’

[Pg 280]



Last acts of Russell.

The destruction of Feagh MacHugh enabled Russell to leave Ireland without discredit, but the latter days of his government were darkened by a disaster of a very unusual kind. One hundred and forty barrels of powder which had been drawn from the quay to Wine-tavern Street exploded, accidentally as was supposed, and there was a great destruction of life and property. Men were blown bodily over the housetops, and among the dead were many ‘sons of gentlemen who had come from all parts of Ireland to be educated in the city.’

Appointment of Lord Burgh.

The Queen had for some time made up her mind to entrust the civil and military government of Ireland to Thomas, Lord Burgh, though Burghley wished to leave Norris at the head of the army. Considered as general there could be no comparison between the two men; but it is absurd to say, as so many have said, that Burgh was totally ignorant of military matters. He was governor of Brill, and had fought in the Zutphen campaign, where he distinguished himself by gallantry of a rather headlong kind. But he was chiefly known as a diplomatist, and the fact that he was, or had been, a man of fortune may have weighed with the frugal Queen. Russell, who expected his recall daily, retired from Dublin Castle to a small house, and put his train upon board wages; but he need have been in no hurry, for his successor’s appointment hung fire.

‘The Queen,’ says a well-informed news-writer, ‘hastens the Lord Burgh’s despatch, but by-and-by it is forgotten; it lives some day or two, and lies a-dying twenty days. Many will not believe it till they see him go; but it is very certain that nobody gives it furtherance but the Queen’s own resolu[Pg 281]tion; and his standing upon an imprest of 3,000l. and a house furnished makes her Majesty let it fall.’[267]

Arrival of Burgh, May.

The financial question was settled at last, Lord Burgh receiving 1,200l. for immediate needs. He carried 24,000l. to Ireland with him, and was allowed to retain the governorship of Brill. His health was bad, but he did not let this delay him. ‘I am,’ he told Cecil, ‘cut all over my legs with the lancet, and have abidden loathsome worms to suck my flesh.’ He could not wish even his enemies to feel such anguish. But he managed to take leave of the Queen in spite of his swollen legs, and a week after the leeching, he travelled as far as St. Albans, accompanied by Raleigh, Southampton, and other distinguished men. On the morning of his departure, he went to see Essex at Barnes, and the Earl brought him back to London in his coach. At Stony Stratford he opened his instructions, and found, to his great chagrin, that one article had been added to those which he had already seen. The Queen had been dishonoured, she said, by the facility with which knighthood had been bestowed, and he was forbidden to give it ‘to any but such as shall be, both of blood and livelihood, sufficient to maintain that calling, except at some notable day of service to bestow it for reward upon some such as in the field have extraordinarily deserved it.’

He was thoroughly alive to the difficulties awaiting him in Ireland—difficulties which had been aggravated by the delay in despatching him, and now he was deprived of the means of rewarding his friends, and made to seem less trustworthy than his predecessors. He was in Dublin on the twelfth day after leaving London, and found nothing there to his liking. Almost all supplies were wanting, the number of effective soldiers was much below what it should have been, and the horses were too weak for active service.[268]

Burgh and Norris.
General misery.

It was known that Norris, who had been on bad terms[Pg 282] with Lord Burgh in England, resented his appointment, which Essex may have promoted for that very reason, and it was supposed that he would submit to his authority grudgingly and of necessity, or not at all. But the general came to Dublin four days after the new Lord Deputy’s arrival, and the latter saw no reason to complain. ‘Sir John Norris and I,’ he wrote to Cecil, ‘have in public council and private conferences agreed well. I think you wrote to him to become compatible.’ Writing on the same day, Norris says nothing against Burgh, but shows some apprehension that Russell would be his enemy, and notes that both he and the Council had stated openly, in the new Lord Deputy’s presence, that there was no charge against him. But a news-writer in London, who retailed the Court gossip, talks of a solemn pacification between Norris and Burgh, ‘made with much counterfeit kindness on both sides.’ The general then returned to his province of Munster, begging to be recalled, and protesting at the same time that ill-health and not ill-temper had made him weary of the service. It may have been the reason why this greatest soldier of his age and country had of late constantly preferred negotiation to war. Russell was already gone, and on his arrival in London found that the Queen was too angry to see him, the world at the same time noticing that he was ‘very fat, both in body and purse.’ Lord Burgh threw all his energies into military organisation, and complained that his brains were tired by captains who expected to find a city of London in Dublin. Almost everything was wanting, and the general misery, he told Cecil, ‘lamentable to hear as I am sure in your ears, but woeful to behold to Christian eyes. I see soldiers, citizens, villagers, and all sorts of people daily perish through famine; meat failing the man of war makes him savage, so as the end is both spoiler and spoiled are in like calamity.’[269]

Burgh attacks Tyrone,
crosses the Blackwater,
and maintains his ground.

Tyrone, with 800 foot and 80 horse, was encamped[Pg 283] between Newry and Armagh, and Captain Turner was ordered to attack him suddenly. The surprise was almost, but not quite, complete, and the rebel Earl escaped through a bog on foot and with the loss of his hat. ‘I trust,’ said Turner, ‘it presages his head against the next time.’ Armagh was revictualled, and the Irish withdrew beyond the Blackwater. Early in July Burgh was able to advance to Armagh, whence he surveyed the famous ford which had given so much trouble. It was defended on the north side by a high bank and deep ditch manned by about forty men, and Tyrone, whose camp was near, thought it could not be carried until he had time to come up. Burgh saw that a surprise was his only chance, and, though some said he was no general, he was at least soldier enough to observe that the shape of the ground would shelter his men while they were in the water. Choosing out 1,200 foot and 300 horse, he started at daybreak and at once undertook the passage. His men wavered, but he led them on himself, and they swarmed over the breastwork before any reinforcements could arrive. The defenders ran away, and Tyrone hanged a score of them. Burgh’s success, which was a great one, seems to have been entirely due to his personal gallantry. Next day Tyrone made a strenuous effort to regain the position, and half-surprised the army, who were assembled ‘to hear a sermon and pray to God.’ Good watch was, however, kept, and the assailants were beaten back. The soldiers fell in rather confusedly, and in pursuing their advantage went too far into the woods. Burgh gave special orders to avoid all chance of an ambuscade, but there were many volunteers whose discipline was of the slightest. Some were relatives of his own, and all served out of friendship or for the fun of the thing. The horse became entangled in the woods; Turner and Sir Francis Vaughan, the Lord Deputy’s brother-in-law, were killed, and two of his nephews wounded. Again he had himself to come to the rescue, rallied the soldiers, and finally repulsed the Irish with loss. He felt he might be accused of rashness and of exposing himself; but his excuse was ready. ‘I have not,’ he said, ‘that wherein my Lord of Essex is and all generals be in a journey happy, scarcely any[Pg 284] of such understanding as to do what they be bidden; as he hath many: when I direct, for want of others I must execute.’[270]

New fort built at the Blackwater.

As soon as the news reached England Essex said that the extirpation of Tyrone would be easy work. Russell had ended well, Burgh had begun well, and Ireland was improving. But Feagh MacHugh’s sons were as bad as their father, and Tyrone’s power was destined to outlast both the life and the reputation of Essex. The Queen was much pleased, and upon the sore question of knighthood yielded so far as to say that she would sanction any reasonable list that the Lord Deputy might send over. At first she had complained of his rashness, but had satisfied herself that he had done rightly, only reminding him that he was a deputy, and that hazarding his person unduly was like hazarding her own. In seeking help from Spain Tyrone claimed a victory, and made much of having killed the Lord Deputy’s brother-in-law, but he could not prevent the English from building a fort at Blackwater. It was entrusted to Captain Thomas Williams, who had served most of the princes of Christendom for twenty-three years, and who proved himself a hero indeed.[271]

Burgh’s plan of campaign.

Lord Burgh’s plan was that Sir Conyers Clifford should invade Tyrconnell from Connaught, while he himself was at the Blackwater, but the latter found it impossible to be ready in time. Thomond and Inchiquin, Clanricarde and Dunkellin, O’Connor Sligo, and many others obeyed his summons; his object being to take and garrison Ballyshannon, which was now recognised as the key of Connaught and Ulster. O’Donnell made great efforts to prevent this, but Clifford crossed the Erne on July 29, about half a mile below Belleek, not without severe fighting. Lord Inchiquin and O’Connor Sligo vied with each other who should be the first over, and the former, who wore a cuirass, received a bullet under one[Pg 285] arm which went out at the other. He fell from his horse, and perished in the waters. His body was carried to Assaroe and honourably buried by the Cistercians there, but was claimed by the Franciscans of Donegal, on the ground that his O’Brien ancestors had long been buried in a friary of their order in Clare. The dispute was referred by O’Donnell to the same bishop, Redmond O’Gallagher, who had befriended Captain Cuellar in the Armada days, and to Nial O’Boyle, bishop of Raphoe. The decision was in favour of the Franciscans, and this loyal O’Brien rested among the O’Donnells, for whose overthrow he had fought so well.[272]

Clifford attacks Ballyshannon,
but has to retreat.

Four guns were brought from Galway and landed near the castle of Ballyshannon, which was defended by a garrison of eighty men, of whom some were Spaniards, and commanded by a Scotchman named Crawford. After three days’ cannonade, ammunition began to run short, and little impression had been made on the castle, while O’Donnell’s force grew stronger every day. Clifford’s position was now very precarious, for the fords were held behind him, and all communications interrupted. He attempted to re-embark his ordnance, but the gyn broke, and he had to leave three out of four pieces behind him. Just above the fall of the Erne a passage, called by the Irish the ‘ford of heroes,’ was left unguarded, probably on account of its difficulty, and at daybreak Clifford, who had spent the hours of darkness in making his arrangements, waded the river unperceived by the Irish. Many were swept over the fall and out to sea, but the main body struggled over and formed upon the left bank. The O’Donnells pursued without stopping to put on their clothes, and there was a running fight for some fifteen miles; but Clifford reached Drumcliff in Sligo without much further loss. The English had no powder and were completely outnumbered, but torrents of rain fell and wetted the ammunition of their foes. Maguire and O’Rourke were both with O’Donnell in this affair. Clifford marched on foot in the rear, and indeed personal bravery was the only soldierly quality that could be shown. His[Pg 286] ablest officer denied that forty years’ service in the best European army could teach a man anything useful for Irish warfare. The service was barbarous and hateful, and he begged to be put into some other war, for in Connaught nothing was to be got or learned.[273]

Tyrone’s pretensions.

After his successful journey to the Blackwater, Burgh remained some weeks in the field, and during that time he vainly endeavoured to come to terms with Tyrone. The latter refused to give the pledge demanded, and while declaring that he was reasonable and that his conscience was discharged, talked of making peace with the Queen as if he had been an independent sovereign. In the meantime he was earnestly soliciting help from Spain, and the death of Lord Kildare was one success of which he boasted. That Earl was, however, not wounded at all, though some say that the loss of two foster brothers in the late fight had preyed upon his mind. Burgh now declared that his patience was exhausted, and went back to Dublin to make preparations for a further invasion of Ulster. ‘All your popish shaven priests,’ he wrote to Tyrone, ‘shall never absolve you, God destroying the counsels of the wicked against his anointed.’[274]

Gallant defence of the new fort.
Death of Burgh.

When Burgh had left Armagh, and Clifford had been driven from Ballyshannon, brave Captain Williams had a hard time at Blackwater. Tyrone found it impossible to prevent supplies from entering the ruined city, although he could and did surround the outpost completely; but when an escalade was attempted, the stout soldier within was more than able to hold his own. The storming party were picked men, who received the Sacrament and were sworn not to abandon their task till they had carried the fort, but they lost all their ladders and afterwards owned to 400 killed and wounded. Three days later Burgh left Dublin to relieve the beleaguered garrison, and reached Armagh without opposition. He perhaps[Pg 287] hoped to surprise some of Tyrone’s people, but met none until he came near the Blackwater, which he passed after a sharp skirmish. His intention was to advance to Dungannon, or perhaps to establish an advanced post there, but he was taken suddenly ill. The fort was victualled and relieved, and the Deputy was carried in a litter to Armagh, and thence to Newry, where he died a few days later. He made a will in the presence of several witnesses, of whom John Dymmok, author of a well-known treatise on Ireland, was one; but his strength failed before he could sign it. Bagenal and Cecil were named executors, and all goods he bequeathed to his wife, Lady Frances, to do her best for the children; and for her and them he asked the Queen’s protection, ‘myself having spent my patrimony and ended my days in her service.’ To the Queen he left his garter and George, also his papers, and his body to be disposed of as she pleased. The dead Deputy’s servants ran away, and Bagenal was in some doubt as to what he should do; for no chief governor had died in office since Skeffington’s time. The body was buried at Westminster more than three months later, and Sir Francis Vere agreed to pay Lady Burgh 400l. a year out of his salary as governor of Brill. The money was perhaps badly paid, for the poor lady was long suppliant to Cecil, and described herself as his ‘unfortunate kinswoman.’[275]

Sir John Norris retires to Munster,
and dies there.

The death of Lord Burgh was a serious loss to the Queen’s service, and it did not come single. Sir John Norris retired to his province of Munster after conferring with the Lord Deputy, but there is nothing in his letters to show that the latter dismissed him in an unfriendly way. There was not much love lost between them, perhaps, but there is no evidence of anything more than this. Norris went to Waterford and Limerick, though every movement hurt him, and he reported[Pg 288] that Munster was in a very poor state of defence. The Queen would not give the necessary funds, and the inhabitants of the town would do very little for themselves. But there was no immediate danger of a Spanish invasion, and he begged leave to recruit his health. Afterwards he could return to his post, and he was ready to remain at all risks if he could do any good. Tyrone wrote to him, but he sent the letter unopened to Burgh, apologising even for saving time by occasionally communicating directly with the English Government. He advised that the rebel should be well pressed during the summer, in which case many would leave him. ‘I am not envious,’ he said, ‘though others shall reap the fruits of my travail, an ordinary fortune of mine.’ To curry favour with Essex some insinuated that the President was shamming illness to get out of Ireland, but the event proved that his complaints were genuine. Old wounds neglected or unskilfully treated ended in gangrene, and he died at Mallow, in the arms of his brother Thomas. The most absurd fables were told about his last hours, and an historian gravely relates that the enemy of mankind, black and dressed in black, appeared to him while playing cards, reminded him of an old bargain, and claimed his soul then and there. ‘We may judge,’ adds this credulous writer, ‘how much God helped O’Neill, who had not only often beaten Norris, the best of English generals, in battle, but also vanquished the devil himself, who is believed to have helped him according to contract.’ The body was embalmed and taken to England, and Elizabeth wrote a beautiful letter of condolence to Lady Norris, in which she charged her to bear up for her husband’s sake, reminding her that her own loss as Queen was scarcely less grievous or less bitter than a mother’s.[276]

[Pg 289]

Consequences of Burgh’s death.
Belfast in 1597.

A vacancy in the chief governorship of Ireland was always a cause of weakness, and often of disaster. Discipline was relaxed, and enemies of the Government knew how to take their advantage. At Carrickfergus, which was an exposed place, there had lately been many bickerings among the authorities; insomuch that Captain Rice Maunsell, who commanded the troops, imprisoned Charles Egerton, who was constable of the castle. One consequence was that Belfast fell into the hands of Shane MacBrian O’Neill, who hanged and disembowelled every Englishman found therein. Sir John Chichester, a younger brother of the more famous Sir Arthur, was then appointed to the military command, and his first essay was most successful. ‘Belfast,’ he says, ‘is a place which standeth eight miles from Carrickfergus, and on the river, where the sea ebbs and flows, so that boats may be landed within a butte (musket) shot of the said castle; for the recovery whereof I made choice that it should be one of my first works; and on the eleventh day of July following attempted the same with some hundred men, which I transported thither in boats by sea; and indeed our coming was so unlooked for by them as it asked us no long time before we took the place, without any loss to us, and put those we found in it to the sword.’ Shane O’Neill’s castle of Edenduffcarrick was afterwards taken by Chichester, which afforded a means of victualling the Blackwater fort by way of Lough Neagh. Shane MacBrian and the other O’Neills of his sept then went to Dublin and submitted, giving sufficient hostages for their good behaviour.[277]

Disaster at Carrickfergus.

By the death of his elder brothers, Donnell and Alaster, James MacSorley had become chief of the Irish MacDonnells. Though unable to speak the Lowland tongue, he had lately been knighted by James VI. and received with much distinction at court, where his liberality and fine manners made him a favourite, and at his departure he was thought worthy of a salute from Edinburgh Castle. He and his brother Randal soon aroused suspicion at Carrickfergus. They de[Pg 290]molished their castles at Glenarm and Red Bay, and concentrated their strength at Dunluce, which they armed with three guns taken from the Spanish Armada. These pieces they refused to surrender at Chichester’s demand, and there were also suspicious dealings with Tyrone, whose daughter Randal afterwards married. The governor invited the MacDonnells to a parley, and they appeared with 600 men about four miles from the town. The immediate complaint was that they had been plundering in Island Magee. Chichester went to meet them, but his men had scarcely recovered from a long march two nights before, and much of their powder was still damp. A council of war was held, at which Moses Hill, lieutenant of horse and founder of the Downshire family, offered to surprise the MacDonnells in their camp if the governor could wait till night. This was agreed to, but rasher counsels ultimately prevailed. Captain Merriman, who was said to have captured 50,000 head of MacDonnell cattle in his time, thought it a shame to be braved by such beggars; others thought so too, and Chichester gave way willingly enough. As the English advanced the Scots retreated, but soon turned on their pursuers, whose ranks were not well kept and whose muskets were almost useless. Horse and foot were driven back pell-mell towards the town, and Chichester was killed by a shot in the head, after being wounded in the shoulder and in the leg. Maunsell and other officers also fell, and only two seem to have escaped unwounded. About 180 men were killed out of a force which probably did not exceed 300. Some saved their lives by swimming over into Island Magee, while Captain Constable and others were taken prisoners. The survivors from the battle and the officers who had remained in reserve named Egerton their governor and expected an attack, but MacDonnell chose rather to appear as an aggrieved man who had fought in self-defence. The check to the Government was a severe one, and Tyrone was greatly strengthened by it.[278]

[Pg 291]

Lords Justices appointed.
Ormonde Lord General.

The Irish Council made Sir Thomas Norris sole Lord Justice, very much against his will. He had succeeded his brother as Lord President of Munster, and left Captain Thornton there to do the work, and to draw most of the salary. This temporary arrangement was altered by the Queen, who appointed Archbishop Loftus and Chief Justice Gardiner Lords Justices, gave the supreme military command to Ormonde, with the title of Lieutenant-General, and ordered Norris back to his own province. The appointment of Ormonde involved fresh negotiations, and Tyrone was more likely to agree with him than with any English Deputy. ‘You now,’ the Queen wrote to her general, ‘represent our own person, and have to do with inferior people and base rebels, to whose submission if we in substance shall be content to condescend, we will look to have the same implored in such reverend form as becometh our vassals and such heinous offenders to use, with bended knees and hearts humbled; not as if one prince did treat with another upon even terms of honour or advantage, in using words of peace or war, but of rebellion in them, and mercy in us; for rather than ever it shall appear to the world that in any such sort we will give way to any of their pride, we will cast off either sense or feeling of pity or compassion, and upon what price soever prosecute them to the last hour.’[279]

Ormonde’s futile negotiations with Tyrone,

Tyrone himself sought an interview with Ormonde, and submitted humbly enough to him at Dundalk. ‘I do,’ he said, ‘here acknowledge, upon the knees of my heart, that I am sorry for this my late relapse and defection.’ He begged a truce for two months, and undertook not to prevent the Blackwater fort from being victualled in the meantime. In the negotiations which followed, ‘free liberty of conscience for all the inhabitants of Ireland’ was demanded by Tyrone; but while placing this claim in the forefront, he never really[Pg 292] insisted upon it, and no doubt its main object was to make an impression abroad. In 1591 he had taken care to be married to Mabel Bagenal by a Protestant bishop, ‘according her Majesty’s laws,’ and he now undertook not to correspond with Spain or any foreign nation. Another promise was to victual the garrison at Blackwater, and he did actually furnish forty beeves, ten of which were rejected by the inexorable Williams, though the leanest beef was probably better than the horseflesh upon which he and his brave men had lately lived. In the end Tyrone refused to give up his eldest son, or any hostage; but he agreed to accept a sheriff provided a gentleman of the country was appointed, to maintain and victual Blackwater fort, to renounce the name of O’Neill, to renew his submission to Ormonde in some public place, and to pay a fine of 500 cows. On receipt of his pardon, he further agreed to disperse all his forces, and send Scots or other hired strangers out of the realm.

who despises a pardon.

These terms were accepted, and a pardon passed under the great seal of Ireland; but the result was only a truce, and open hostilities were resumed within two months. At the very moment that the pardon was given, Tyrone was encouraging his confederates to believe in an imminent Spanish invasion of Munster, and it is evident that he had never intended to yield upon any essential point.[280]

Munster brigandage, 1597. Florence MacCarthy.

Munster had lately been pretty quiet, but there were not wanting signs of the tremendous storm which was soon to burst over it. The MacSheehys, the remnant of the Desmond gallowglasses, ‘preyed, spoiled, and murdered’ over eighty English families. Of three brothers, one was sentenced ‘to have his arms and thighs broken with a sledge, and hang in chains, so was he executed without the north gate of Cork;’ the second was killed by an Irish kerne, and the third fell by an English hand when Spenser’s house at Kilcolman was sacked. Donnell MacCarthy saved himself by coming under[Pg 293] protection and behaving well for a time. His father, the wicked Earl of Clancare, died late in 1596, and Sir Thomas Norris advised that some small property should be assigned to ‘his base son of best reputation,’ while Florence might be given the bulk of the remote and barren heritage of McCarthy More. Florence and Donell both went to plead their own causes in London, while the widowed countess complained that she and her daughter were ‘prisoners there for their diet.’ The poor lady begged for her thirds, ‘notwithstanding any wrangling between my son-in-law, Nicholas Browne, Donell MacCarthy, and the rest.’ She gained her cause, and Donell was given some lands which his father had conveyed to him. Ormonde thought the presence of Florence important for the peace of Munster, and asked Cecil not to detain him, while Florence himself begged the Secretary to let him serve her Majesty in Ireland, instead of keeping him in London at her cost. When the news of the outbreak arrived, he received 100l. for his journey to Ireland, but he lingered in the hope of getting all the late Earl’s estate, and Essex had left Ireland before his return.[281]


[267] Sir T. Wilkes to Sir Robert Sidney, Jan. 17, 1597; Rowland Whyte to same, Feb. 21, March 4, April 13, in Sidney Papers, vol. ii.; Motley’s United Netherlands, ch. ix. The explosion of powder was on March 13, and is recorded by the Four Masters and in Russell’s Journal.

[268] Rowland Whyte to Sir R. Sidney in Sidney Papers, May 4, 1597; Lord Burgh to Cecil, April 26 and May 4, MSS. Hatfield, and to Burghley, May 23. R. O. Burgh left London May 3, and reached Dublin on the 15th. He suffered from a wound or hurt received in Holland in 1595, see his letter to Essex of Aug. 27, and that year in Birch’s Memoirs, i. 285.

[269] Russell’s Journal in Carew, May 1597; Chamberlain’s Letters, June 11; Burgh to Cecil, May 24 and June 12; Norris to Cecil, May 24 and June 10; Russell to the Privy Council, June 25, MS. Hatfield.

[270] Captain Richard Turner (sergeant-major) to Essex, June 14; Lord Burgh to Cecil, received July 28. Several other letters are printed in the Hist. MSS., Ireland, part iv. 1, appx. 12.

[271] Essex to the Queen (July) in Calendar of S. P. Domestic; Cecil to Burgh (end of July); Tyrone to the King of Spain (not before August) 1597, in Carew, No. 275.

[272] Four Masters, 1597; Clifford to Burgh, Aug. 9. This Lord Inchiquin (Murrogh, 4th Baron) served in Perrott’s Parliament.

[273] Four Masters, 1597; O’Sullivan Bere; Clifford to Burgh, Aug. 9; Sir Calisthenes Brooke to Cecil, Aug. 13. As was more fully proved in 1689, the possessors of Enniskillen and of the Erne from Belleek to Ballyshannon, about four miles, held the keys of the partition between Ulster and Connaught.

[274] Tyrone to Burgh, Aug. 10, 1597, and the answer, Aug. 16.

[275] Lord Burgh’s will, Oct. 12, 1597; Sir H. Bagenal to the Queen, to Burghley, and to Cecil, Oct. 13; Rowland Whyte to Sir R. Sidney, Feb. 1, 1598, in Sidney Papers; Frances Lady Burgh to Cecil, Jan. 1599 (one of several), Hatfield. For the assault and relief of the fort see Fenton to Cecil, Oct. 5, 1597; Captain Williams to the Privy Council, Nov. 1; the Four Masters; Moryson. Burgh died Oct. 13, a wrong date being usually given; he had no recent wound apparently.

[276] Sir John Norris to the Privy Council and to Cecil, June 10, 1597; to Burghley, June 2; to Cecil, July 20; O’Sullivan Bere, tom. iii. lib. iii. cap. 10. The Queen’s letter of Sept. 22 to Lady Norris, which begins ‘My own crow,’ has been printed by Fuller, Lloyd, and others. Norris died before Sept. 9, on which day the Presidency of Munster was placed in commission. In an undated letter at Hatfield, which evidently belongs to the early part of 1597, Norris begs leave for ‘this spring’ before it is too late. His lungs were affected, besides the trouble from his wounded leg.

[277] Services of Sir John Chichester and the garrison of Carrickfergus, Sept. 16, 1597.

[278] Egerton, North, Charles Maunsell, and Merriman to Lord Justice Norris, Nov. 6, 1597, enclosing Lieutenant Harte’s account, who was present. Other accounts are collected in the Ulster Journal of Archæology, vol. v. pp. 188 sqq. See also Gregory’s Western Highlands, chap. vi., where James MacSorley is called ‘Dunluce,’ as if that had been a Scotch lairdship. Chichester’s overthrow was on Nov. 4.

[279] Sir T. Norris to Cecil, Oct. 31, 1597. For the terms on which Ormonde and the Lords Justices were appointed see Liber Munerum Publicorum, part ii. p. 5. The Queen to Ormonde, Dec. 29, in Carew.

[280] Submission to Ormonde, Dec. 22, 1597; the Queen to Ormonde, Dec. 29; Heads of agreement submitted at Dundalk, March 15, 1598, all in Carew; Fenton to Cecil, April 20. The course of the negotiations may be traced clearly in Moryson, under the year 1597-8. The abortive pardon was dated April 11.

[281] Florence MacCarthy’s Life, chap. viii. Honora Lady Clancare and Florence MacCarthy to Cecil, July 29 and Aug. 8, 1598, MSS. Hatfield.

[Pg 294]



Bacon and Essex.
Bacon’s advice.

While Ormonde was trying to make peace with Tyrone, Francis Bacon was encouraging Essex to occupy himself with Irish affairs, in which he had an hereditary interest. Honour, he argued, was to be got by succeeding where so many had failed, and the lion’s share would fall to him who had made choice of successful agents. Neither Fitzwilliam nor Norris had been the Earl’s friends, and Russell had been a lukewarm one; whereas Ormonde and Sir Conyers Clifford were well disposed, and there was no danger in supporting them for the time. Popular opinion declared that Irish affairs had been neglected, and the mere appearance of care in that direction would win credit. Sir William Russell, Sir Richard Bingham, the Earl of Thomond, and Mr. Wilbraham, the Irish Solicitor-General, were all at hand, and the necessary information might be had from them. And then we have this truly Baconian passage: ‘If your lordship doubt to put your sickle into another’s harvest; first, time brings it to you in Mr. Secretary’s absence; next, being mixed with matter of war, it is fittest for you; and lastly, I know your lordship will carry it with that modesty and respect towards aged dignity, and that good correspondence towards my dear kinsman and your good friend now abroad, as no inconvenience may grow that way.’ In Cecil’s absence Essex played the part of secretary, while Raleigh and Russell, Sir Richard Bingham, Sir Robert Sidney, and Sir Christopher Blount were all mentioned as possible viceroys; but none of them were willing to go. Bacon’s further advice was asked, and his idea was to temporise with Tyrone, strengthening the garrisons and placing confidence in Ormonde, while taking[Pg 295] steps to remedy the real abuses from which Ireland suffered. ‘And,’ he says, ‘but that your lordship is too easy to pass in such cases from dissimulation to verity, I think if your lordship lent your reputation in this case—that is, to pretend that if peace go not on, and the Queen mean not to make a defensive war as in times past, but a full reconquest of those parts of the country, you would accept the charge—I think it would help to settle Tyrone in his seeking accord, and win you a great deal of honour gratis.’[282]

The Blackwater fort beleaguered.

The fort at the Blackwater was but a ditch intended to shelter 100 men. Lord Burgh had left 300 men there, and sickness was the natural consequence of this overcrowding. The time expired on June 7, and on the 9th the solitary stronghold was again surrounded, Tyrone swearing that he would never leave it untaken. But Williams was such a soldier as neither numbers, nor threats, nor want of support could daunt. An escalade was again attempted, with ladders made to hold five men abreast; but the two field-pieces were loaded with musket bullets and swept the trench. The captain vowed that he would blow all into the air sooner than surrender, and his courage communicated itself to his men. All who could stand at all fought bravely, and the corpses of the assailants were piled up so as to fill the ditch. No further assault was made; but victuals were scarce, and the soldiers, who did not disdain the very grass upon the ramparts, subsisted mainly upon the flesh of horses captured in several sallies. Seventeen or eighteen mares, the captain told one of Fenton’s spies, would last for a month at least,[Pg 296] and he would hold out till the middle of August. ‘I protest to God,’ Ormonde wrote to Cecil, ‘the state of the scurvy fort of Blackwater, which cannot be long held, doth more touch my heart than all the spoils that ever were made by traitors on mine own lands. The fort was always falling, and never victualled but once (by myself) without an army, to her Majesty’s exceeding charges.’[283]

Preparations for relief of the fort.
Tyrone’s tactics.

Honour might require that an army should be sent, and yet there can be little doubt that Ormonde was right from a military point of view. One isolated fort could be of little use, and it was even now in contemplation to revive the settlement at Derry. About 1,000 seasoned soldiers from the Netherlands were placed under the command of Sir Samuel Bagenal, a like number of recruits were added, and the whole force was held in readiness for an expedition into Ulster. But the plan of surrounding Tyrone, which had been so often urged upon the English Government, was not destined to be carried out for some years to come. In the meantime it was decided that Captain Williams should be relieved. The forces actually available at this time did not much exceed 7,000 men, and of these somewhat more than a third were of Irish birth. About a third only were English, and rather less than a third were natives of the Pale, with English names, but with many Irish habits. The numbers which Tyrone could gather round him were at least equal to all the Queen’s army in Ireland, and only a very strong body of men could hope to succeed now that the rebel chief had had time to interpose all sorts of obstacles. Earthworks had been thrown up between Armagh and the Blackwater, trees had been felled and branches intertwined across the roads, and holes had been dug in all the fords. Of the three Lords Justices, the churchman and the lawyer were opposed to the attempt altogether, believing that it was better to defend the Pale and withdraw the Blackwater garrison while easy terms[Pg 297] could still be had. Others of the Council agreed with them, but Ormonde was supreme in military matters, and Sir Henry Bagenal was at hand to urge him that the relief of the fort concerned her Majesty’s honour. Failing to dissuade him from the enterprise, the others pressed him to take the command in person, and, if he had done so, the result might have been very different. But Desmond’s conqueror was now sixty-six years old, and he preferred to serve against the Kavanaghs nearer home. He remembered that the safety of Leinster had been especially entrusted to him, and Bagenal, whose town of Newry lay near the scene of action, and who was as bitter as ever against his brother-in-law, was most anxious to be employed.[284]

Battle of the Yellow Ford. Complete defeat of the troops.
Death of Bagenal.

Four thousand foot and 320 horse with four field-pieces marched out of Dundalk under Marshal Bagenal’s command. Many of them were veterans who had seen continental war, but from the first ill-fortune attended them. The officers seem to have had but little confidence in their general, and the simple soldier is quick to take the cue from his immediate chief. Strict orders were given that no one should stay behind, but the young gentlemen who served as volunteers lingered in the town, and some of them were killed by the Irish horse while crossing the difficult ground between Dundalk and Newry. The main body reached Armagh without fighting, and as they approached could plainly see the enemy encamped between the town and the river. After his arrival Bagenal called a meeting of officers and told them that he intended to avoid the direct road, which was strongly held, and to march a mile or two to the right. By so doing he hoped to keep on hard ground. One bog had indeed to be passed, and his plan was to skirmish there while a passage for the guns was made with sticks and boughs. Early next morning the army marched accordingly in six divisions, with intervals of at least 600 yards, and the Irish skirmishers then[Pg 298] began to harass them before they had gone half a mile. The little river Callan was passed at a point where there is now a bridge and a beetling mill, but which was then a ford, with a yellow bottom and yellow banks. From this point the column was fully exposed, the O’Donnells drawing round their right flank while the O’Neills pressed them on the left. Tyrone was protected by a bog, over which his men moved with the agility begotten by long practice, and O’Donnell’s sharp-shooters took advantage of the juniper bushes which then studded the hills on the right. The Irish outnumbered the relieving force by at least two to one, and their loose formation gave them an advantage over the closely packed English battalions. The vanguard nevertheless struggled through the bog until they came to a ditch a mile long, five feet deep, four feet wide, and surmounted by a thorny hedge. This they carried with a rush, but not being properly supported they were beaten back, and the Marshal coming himself to the rescue was shot through the brain. The centre were delayed by the largest piece of artillery, which stuck fast while the O’Donnells easily picked off the draught-oxen. The usual confusion which follows the death of a general was increased by the explosion of two barrels of powder, from one of which a private soldier was rashly replenishing his horn. Colonel Cosby, who commanded the third battalion, hurried to the front, but it was then too late. He was taken prisoner, and his regiment shared the fate of the first two. The rear half of the army had enough to do to maintain itself against O’Donnell, Maguire, and James MacSorley, but preserved its formation, and, covered by Captain Montague’s horse, made a pretty orderly retreat to Armagh. ‘I protest,’ said a young Irish officer afterwards distinguished in these wars, ‘our loss was only for the great distance that was betwixt us in our march, for when the vanguard was charged they were within sight of our battle, and yet not rescued until they were overthrown. The explosion, and the delay about the gun, did the rest.’[285]

[Pg 299]

Results of the defeat.

Between killed, wounded, and missing the losses did not fall far short of 2,000. Not less than twenty-four officers fell, the gun which caused delay by sticking in the mud, was abandoned to the victors, many colours were taken, and nearly all the new levies threw away their arms. Several hundred Irish soldiers deserted, and with them two English recruits, who called next morning to their comrades that Tyrone would give them all twenty shillings bounty to join him. Among the captains killed was Maelmore O’Reilly, Sir John’s son, who was known as ‘the handsome,’ and who fought with distinguished bravery. The survivors gathered in the church at Armagh, but it seemed doubtful whether they could maintain themselves there. A great part of the provisions, the conveyance of which to the Blackwater was the object of the expedition, had fallen into the hands of the enemy, and the remaining supplies would scarcely suffice for ten days. The Irish soldiers continued to desert steadily, and the disheartened remnant of the foot dared not attempt to reach Newry without help, but it was known that Maguire and O’Donnell were also short of provisions, and at last it was decided that the horse should break through the victorious Irish who swarmed round the camp. Montague performed this service successfully, though not without loss, during the night which followed the battle. Terence O’Hanlon pursued him closely, and it has been particularly recorded that Captain Romney was surprised and killed while smoking a pipe of tobacco by the roadside.[286]

Panic in Dublin.
The fort evacuated.

This disastrous battle was fought on August 14, and on[Pg 300] the 16th Montague told the story in Dublin. Ormonde was away, and the other Lords Justices were panic-stricken. They wrote a humble letter to Tyrone, begging him not to attack the defeated troops ‘in cold blood.’ ‘You may,’ they added, ‘move her Majesty to know a favourable conceit of you by using favour to these men; and besides, your ancient adversary, the Marshal, being now taken away, we hope you will cease all further revenge towards the rest, against whom you can ground no cause of sting against yourself.’ This missive never reached Tyrone, and the Queen said it was stayed by accident, though the Lords Justices declared they had revoked it. ‘The like,’ Elizabeth declared, ‘was never read, either in form or substance, for baseness.’ And, as it turned out, Tyrone was not unwilling to make a bridge for his defeated enemy. He thought their supply of provisions greater than it was, and he feared that troops might land at Lough Foyle, while Armagh was still held. His own army, he said, was costing him 500l. a day. These reasons were not known till later, but the terms dictated by them were gladly accepted. Captain Williams and his heroic band were allowed to leave the Blackwater, the officers retaining their rapiers and horses, but without colours, drums, or firearms. The whole army then marched unmolested to Newry with their wounded and baggage. Ormonde was able to report that the loss in killed was not so great as at first reported, but might easily have been greater ‘if God had not letted it; for their disorder was such as the like hath not been among men of any understanding, dividing the army into six bodies, marching so far asunder as one of them could not second nor help th’other till those in the vanguard were overthrown. Sure the devil bewitched them! that none of them did prevent this gross error.’[287]

The Irish army disperses.

The Irish leaders are said to have harangued their men[Pg 301] before the fight upon its special importance, and many writers have blamed Tyrone for not advancing straight upon Dublin. But Celtic armies, though they have often won battles, have never known how to press a victory home. Owen Roe O’Neill, Montrose, and Dundee were all subject to the same disability; and Tyrone probably did as much as he could. ‘The chiefs of Ulster,’ say the annalists, ‘returned to their respective homes in joy and exultation, though they had lost many men.’ Dublin was in no danger, nor any of the principal towns; but the country was everywhere in a flame. O’Donnell had most of Connaught at his mercy, though Sir Conyers Clifford could hold his own at Athlone and maintain garrisons at Tulsk, Boyle, and Roscommon. Tibbot ne Long, who headed such of the lower Burkes as remained loyal, was forced to take refuge in one of the boats from which he derived his name, and MacWilliam had Mayo at his mercy. With 2,000 foot and 200 horse and accompanied by O’Dogherty, who was sent by O’Donnell to help him, he swept all the cattle, even from the furthest shores of Clew Bay. The Earl of Thomond was in England, and his brother Teig, who dubbed himself the O’Brien, overran Clare, though a younger brother Donnell remained loyal and opposed him strenuously. To hold all Connaught and Clare, Clifford had but 120 English soldiers, and had but very little effective help except from Clanricarde, who offered to supply 500 cows for 500l. As times stood, this was thought a very honourable offer, but O’Donnell had no difficulty in driving off 4,000 head from those who hesitated to submit.[288]

General attack on English settlers.

In the Pale and in the midland counties things were little better than in Connaught. The Lords Justices discovered a plot to surprise Dublin Castle, and hanged some of the conspirators, but Friar Nangle and other priests who were implicated escaped their vigilance. Croghane Castle, near Philipstown, was surprised by the O’Connors, who scaled the walls, killed Captain Gifford and his men, and wounded his wife in several places. The English proprietor, Sir Thomas[Pg 302] Moore, seems to have been absent, but the Irish carried off Lady Moore and left her in a bog, where she died of cold. Alexander Cosby, the chief of the Queen’s County settlers, had been killed in 1597, and his widow was fortunately in Dublin, but Stradbally fell into the hands of the O’Mores. James FitzPiers, the sheriff of Kildare, was a Geraldine, and being threatened with the pains of hell by Tyrone, he surrendered Athy to Owen MacRory O’More. Captain Tyrrell, who was Tyrone’s best partisan leader, went where he pleased; and it was evident that nothing less than the extirpation of the English settlers was intended.[289]

Rebellion in Munster.
The Sugane Earl.

Of many partial attempts at recolonisation the greatest was that on the forfeited Desmond estates, and the storm was not long in reaching Munster. Piers Lacy, of Bruff in Limerick, who had already once been pardoned, went to Owen MacRory, informed him that all the Geraldines were ready to rise and make James Fitzthomas Earl, and that the MacCarthies would also choose a chief. Tyrone’s leave was first asked and was readily given, for the idea of a new Desmond rebellion was already in his mind. Some months before he had spread a report that the attainted Earl’s son had escaped from the Tower with the Lieutenant’s daughter, that he had been warmly welcomed in Spain, and that he might soon be expected in Munster with large forces. At Michaelmas accordingly Owen MacRory, Tyrrell, and Redmond Burke, Sir John Shamrock’s eldest son, led 1,400 men to the Abbey of Owny in Limerick, but made no advance while Norris was at Kilmallock. As soon as he withdrew they divided into several companies, and destroyed all that was English, and only what was English. They burned Sir Henry Ughtred’s castle at Mayne near Rathkeale, which he[Pg 303] had not attempted to defend. Cahir MacHugh O’Byrne joined O’More at Ballingarry with some of his men, and there they waited until James Fitzthomas had overcome his natural hesitation. Stimulated by the threat of preferring his younger brother, he came in with twenty gentlemen, and assumed the title of Earl as of O’Neill’s gift. The plunder collected by this time was so great that a cow was publicly sold in the camp for sixpence, a brood mare for threepence, and a prime hog for a penny.[290]

Ormonde’s warning disregarded.

From Golden on the Suir Ormonde wrote to warn this new Desmond of his danger, and summoned him to his presence under safe-conduct. ‘We need not,’ he said, ‘put you in mind of the late overthrow of the Earl your uncle, who was plagued, with his partakers, by fire, sword, and famine; and be assured, if you proceed in any traitorous actions, you will have the like end. What Her Majesty’s forces have done against the King of Spain, and is able to do against any other enemy, the world hath seen, to Her Highness’s immortal fame, by which you may judge what she is able to do against you, or any other that shall become traitors.’ But the Geraldine had made up his mind and refused to go. Practically, he complained that the State had held out hopes of the Desmond succession to him, and that he had served against his uncle on that account. A pension of a mark a day from the Queen had been paid for one year only. Others had grievances as well as himself, and indeed it was not hard to find cases of injustice. ‘To be brief with your lordship,’ he concluded, ‘Englishmen were not contented to have our lands and livings, but unmercifully to seek our lives by false and sinister means under colour of law; and as for my part I will prevent it the best I can.’[291]

The Munster settlement destroyed.

Rightly or wrongly, the last Earl of Desmond had been held legitimate, and the first marriage of his father with Joan Roche treated as null and void. The boy in the Tower[Pg 304] was therefore the only claimant whom the Government could recognise, and the sons of Sir Thomas Roe Fitzgerald were excluded. But the Geraldines accepted the new creation at O’Neill’s hands, and the Queen’s adherents in Ireland could for the time do no more than nickname him the Sugane or straw-rope Earl. The English settlement of Munster melted away like the unsubstantial fabric of a vision. ‘The undertakers,’ to use Ormonde’s words, ‘three or four excepted, most shamefully forsook all their castles and dwelling-places before any rebel came in sight of them, and left their castles with their munitions, stuff, and cattle to the traitors, and no manner of resistance made.... Which put the traitors in such pride, and so much discouraged the rest of the subjects as most of them went presently to the towns.’ But all the settlers were not fortunate enough to reach these cities of refuge, and numerous outrages were committed. English children were taken from their nurses’ breasts and dashed against walls. An Englishman’s heart was plucked out in his wife’s presence, and she was forced to lend her apron to wipe the murderer’s fingers. Of the English fugitives who flocked into Youghal, some had lost their tongues and noses, and some had their throats cut, though they still lived. Irish tenants and servants, but yesterday fed in the settlers’ houses, were now conspicuous by their cruelty. Among those who escaped to England were Edmund Spenser and his wife, but one of their children perished in the flames. The poet lost all his property, and of his life’s work in Ireland only his books remain.[292]


At Tallow, in Raleigh’s seignory, there were 60 good houses and 120 able men, of whom 30 were musketeers; but they all ran away, and the rebels burned the rising town to the ground. The destruction of his improvements at this time may account for the small price which Raleigh’s property fetched in the next reign. Among castles in the county of Cork which were abandoned without resistance by the undertakers or their agents, were Tracton, Carrigrohan, and two others belonging to Sir Warham St. Leger; Castlemagner in[Pg 305] Sir William Becher’s seignory; and Derryvillane in Mr. Arthur Hyde’s. In Limerick, besides Mayne the rebels took Pallaskenry and another house from Sir Henry Ughtred, Newcastle, and two more from Sir William Courtenay; Tarbet and another from Justice Golde; Foynes, Shanet, and Corgrage from Sir William Trenchard, and Flemingstown from Mr. Mainwaring. The Abbey of Adare, which was leased to George Thornton, was also left undefended. Castle Island was taken from Sir William Herbert, and Tralee from Sir Edward Denny; and in Kerry generally all the English settlers fled.


Mr. Wayman, a great sheepmaster, left twenty well-armed men at Doneraile, but they ran away and were all killed on the way to Cork. Norris’s English sheep were stolen from Mallow; his park wall was broken down, and his deer let loose. Many settlers fled with their clothes only, and being stripped of these they died of cold on the mountains. The churches and other vacant places in Cork were filled with starving wretches. Youghal was full of them too, and so closely pressed that men scarcely dared to put their heads outside the gates. The most fortunate of the settlers were those who reached Waterford and got a passage to England. Here and there alliances among the Irish saved individual colonists from utter destruction.

Thus Oliver Stephenson, born of an Irish mother, was protected by his relations. He was summoned before the Sugane Earl, who ordered him to show cause why he should not surrender his castle of Dunmoylan, near Foynes, to Ulick Wall, who claimed it as his ancient inheritance. He was, he says, respited till May and ordered to give it up then, ‘if my prince be not able to overcome their power.’ Stephenson begged Norris not to construe his shift as treason, and promised in the meantime to get all the information possible from his maternal relations. Stephenson saved himself, and was afterwards trusted by Lord President Carew.[293]

[Pg 306]


Arthur Hyde was in England when the rebellion broke out, but his wife and children were at his castle of Carriganeady, or Castle Hyde, on the Blackwater. On the day that Owen MacRory and the rest entered Munster, the country people rose ‘instantly before noon,’ and began plundering all round. Hyde’s own cattle and those of his English tenants were taken at once, but his wife and children escaped to Cork with Lord Barry’s help, and his eighteen men held the castle for three weeks. Hyde landed at Youghal, but could do nothing, and his garrison, seeing that there was no chance of relief, yielded on promise of life and wearing apparel. They were stripped naked, but not killed, by Lord Roche’s tenants before they had gone a mile. The Sugane, who was present in person with an overwhelming force, appointed Piers Lacy seneschal of Imokilly, and the castle was surrendered to an Irishman who claimed it. Forty persons depending on Hyde were left destitute, and he sought to form a company. Sixty-four muskets and other arms, with much ammunition, had been provided, and it is probable that things would have gone differently had Hyde been himself at home. A more successful defence was that of Askeaton, by Captain Francis Barkley. The revolt was sudden and unexpected, and he had only the provisions suitable to a gentleman’s house in those days. On October 6, more than 500 English of all sorts—men, women, and children—accustomed to a decent life and nearly all householders, flocked into Askeaton at nine in the evening. The panic was so sudden that they came almost empty-handed. ‘I protest unto your lordships a spectacle of greatest pity and commiseration that ever my eye beheld, and a most notable example of human frailty.’ An English barque lay in the Shannon, and Barkley was fortunate enough to get rid of some useless mouths that way. Others were conveyed to Limerick, where the mayor and citizens used them well. By Ormonde’s advice 120 able men were retained. With soldiers who knew the country, and who burned for revenge, this brave captain announced that he would hold out till death.[Pg 307] Corn and beef were still to be had, and he only asked for the means to keep his men together. Askeaton did not fall.[294]

The native gentry make terms with Tyrone.
Religious animosity.
Why the settlement failed.

The White Knight, Patrick Condon, Lord Barry’s brother John, and Lord Roche’s son David, quickly came to terms with the rebels, and Norris believed that the rest would follow from love or fear. Lord Barry, indeed, held out bravely; but most of his neighbours had no choice, for the Government could do nothing to protect them. The Lord President could not trust his Irish troops, and had to retire from Kilmallock without fighting. Four days later, after effecting a junction with Ormonde, he was able to victual the little garrison town, but had to fall back again immediately to Mallow. Tyrone had warned his friends not to fight a pitched battle, but only to skirmish on difficult ground. After several days’ desultory warfare in the woods about Mallow, Ormonde was recalled to the defence of Kilkenny and Tipperary, and Norris went back to Cork, leaving the rebels to do as they pleased. An English prisoner with Desmond could report but one family of his countrymen spared. A priest told the new-made Earl that they were Catholics, and proclamation was made that they were not to be hurt. They were robbed of all, but carried their lives to Cork. After Ormonde’s departure Owen MacRory went back to Leinster with Cahir MacHugh. He had been ten days in Munster, and left all the other counties at the Sugane’s mercy. The Queen was much chagrined, and blamed both Norris and Ormonde for not giving more effective support to the undertakers. But it does not appear that they were to blame, for the revolt was extremely sudden, and the settlement had not been so managed as to afford the means of resistance. ‘For whereas,’ says Moryson, ‘they should have built castles and brought over colonies of English, and have admitted no Irish tenant, but only English, these and like covenants were in no part performed by them. Of whom the men of best quality never came over, but made profit of the land; others brought no more English than their own families, and all entertained[Pg 308] Irish servants and tenants, which were now the first to betray them. If the covenants had been kept by them, they of themselves might have made 2,000 able men, whereas the Lord President could not find above 200 of English birth among them when the rebels first entered the province. Neither did these gentle undertakers make any resistance to the rebels, but left their dwellings and fled to walled towns; yea, when there was such danger in flight as greater could not have been in defending their own, whereof many of them had woeful experience, being surprised with their wives and children in flight.’ So much for the weak defence, as well-informed Englishmen understood it. The causes of the outbreak, as seen from a Protestant and English point of view, are told by Chief Justice Saxey. Seminaries and Jesuits haunted the towns, of which the mayors were recusants, though shielded by being joined in the commission; the judges of assize were also recusants for the most part, and in charging grand juries they never spoke against foreign power, nor to advance the Queen’s supremacy; the English tenants were too scattered, owing to the undertakers’ slackness; and, lastly, the late exaction of cess, instead of the customary composition, had bred discontent. O’Sullivan, as usual, makes the contest one between Catholics and royalists, and the annalists, who were more emphatically Irish than Catholic, make it a war of races only. ‘In the course of seventeen days,’ they say, ‘the Irish left not, within the length and breadth of the country of the Geraldines, from Dunqueen to the Suir, which the Saxons had well cultivated and filled with habitations and various wealth, a single son of a Saxon whom they did not either kill or expel.’[295]

Rebellion in Leinster and Tipperary.
The Jesuit Archer.

Of three branches of the Butler family ennobled by the Tudor monarchs, two were in open rebellion. Mountgarret was a young man, and was married to Tyrone’s eldest daughter. He now sent to Ulster for 3,000 auxiliaries, and invited his[Pg 309] father-in-law to spend Christmas with him at Kilkenny. In the meantime he allied himself with the Kavanaghs, and took the sacrament with Donnell Spaniagh at Ballyragget. Lord Cahir was married to Mountgarret’s sister, and followed his lead. He refused to go to Ormonde when summoned, who says he was ‘bewitched (a fool he always was before) by his wife, Dr. Creagh, and Father Archer.’ Two loyal neighbours went to Cahir under safe-conduct, but the poor man was not allowed to see them privately. Dr. Creagh, papal bishop of Cork, and the Jesuit Archer were both present, and the peer confessed that he must be ruled by them. Creagh abused one of the visitors for not saluting him, and Archer disarmed him for fear he might hurt the bishop. The two churchmen declared that all the abbey lands should be disgorged, and that all Catholics should make open profession, ‘or be called heretics and schismatics like you.’ They insisted upon three points: the full restoration of the Catholic Church, the restoration of their lands to all Catholics, and a native Catholic prince sworn to maintain all these things. Gough told them that their ideas were ridiculous, and that they could not tell what his religion was because that was shut up in his own breast. He told Cahir that he was sorry to see him so ‘bogged,’ and unable to speak or call his soul his own; after which, he and his friend were not sorry to get away safe.[296]

Weakness of the Government.

‘I pray God,’ said Ormonde, ‘I may live to see the utter destruction of those wicked and unnatural traitors, upon all whom, by fire, sword, or any other extremity, there cannot light too great a plague.’ He pursued Owen MacRory and Redmond Burke, with a mixed multitude of Fitzpatricks, O’Carrolls, O’Kennedys, and O’Ryans, into the woods of the north-west of Tipperary, and captured 100 horses laden with the spoils of the Munster undertakers. But not very much could be done, and he complained bitterly that he was badly supported by the Lords Justices. An archbishop and a chief[Pg 310] justice, both old men, were not the Government suited to a great crisis, and matters of such vital importance as the victualling of Maryborough were left almost to chance. Ormonde relieved the place with 300 cows collected by himself, but not without hard fighting, and the annalists oddly remark that he ‘lost more than the value of the provisions, in men, horses, and arms.’ The conduct of the war in Leinster was entrusted to Sir Richard Bingham, whose prophecies had been completely fulfilled, and who was appointed Marshal in Bagenal’s place. Norris was to remain in Munster, Clifford in Connaught, Sir Samuel Bagenal on the borders of Ulster, and Ormonde in Dublin to control the military arrangements. To hold the towns and to temporise was all that the Queen required until a new viceroy could be had. Bingham had been often consulted of late, and much was expected from his unrivalled knowledge of Ireland; but he was past seventy, and worn out with more than fifty years’ service by sea and land. He died soon after his return to Ireland, and Ormonde was left to his own devices. Before the end of the year it was known that the government would be entrusted to Essex.[297]

O’Donnell in Clare, 1599.
How mortgages were redeemed.

After the victory at the Yellow Ford, O’Donnell remained for more than six months at Ballymote. His inactivity, say the annalists with unconscious irony, was caused solely by the fact that there was no part of Connaught left for him to plunder, except Clare. The Earl of Thomond had spent the year 1598 in England, where he made a very good impression, and on his return remained with Ormonde, at and about Kilkenny. Of his two brothers, Donnell, the younger, represented him in Clare, while Teig led the opposition and[Pg 311] made friends with Tyrone’s adherents in Tipperary. Accompanied by Maguire, O’Donnell entered Clare, thoroughly plundered the baronies of Burren, Inchiquin, and Corcomroe, and returned unscathed to Mayo. Ennistymon, which was part of the territory ravaged, belonged at the time to Sir Tirlogh O’Brien, who was ‘a sheltering fence and a lighting hill to the Queen’s people,’ and who co-operated with the force sent into Clare by Sir Conyers Clifford. Teig, after some skirmishing, thought it prudent to submit, and sessions were successfully held at Ennis. Thomond then returned to his own country and proceeded to chastise Teig MacMahon, who had lately wounded and imprisoned his brother Donnell. MacMahon had taken an English ship which was in difficulties on the coast, but ‘found the profit very trivial and the punishment severe,’ and he had also seized his castle of Dunbeg, which was in pledge to a Limerick merchant, but without paying the mortgagee. Carrigaholt was taken, and all MacMahon’s cattle driven away. Cannon were brought from Limerick against Dunbeg, but the garrison did not wait to be fired at, ‘and the protection they obtained lasted only while they were led to the gallows, from which they were hanged in couples, face to face.’ Thomond then went northwards, and restored to his friends the castle from which O’Donnell had expelled them.[298]

Tyrone’s rule in Munster.

During the early months of 1599 Tyrone’s illegitimate son Con was preparing his way in Munster. The Earl blamed him severely for imprisoning and robbing Archbishop Magrath, of whose re-conversion he had hopes, since his liberty could not be restrained nor his temporalities touched without direct authority from Rome. ‘But if,’ he added, ‘the covetousness of this world caused him to remain on this way that he is upon, how did his correcting touch you? Withal I have the witness of my own priest upon him, that he promised to return from that way, saving only that he could not but take order for his children first, seeing he got them, and also that he is friend and ally unto us.’ Con tried[Pg 312] to extort ransom from the astute Miler, who promised to befriend him as far as possible without ‘hurting his privilege in her Majesty’s laws,’ but Tyrone sent peremptory orders that he should be released without any conditions. In the almost complete paralysis of authority, most of the Munster gentry made terms with Con and the new Earl of Desmond. Lord Barry and Lord Roche between them might bring 100 men to the Queen, but they had no allies worth mentioning. Norris had about 2,000 men, but the general falling away was such that he could do very little. At the end of March he left Cork with eighteen companies of foot and three troops of horse. Lady Roche, a sister of James Fitzmaurice, was ready to come out of Castletown to meet him, but Tyrone’s Ulster mercenaries would not allow her. The capture of Carriglea castle was the only real success, and the Lord President returned on the ninth day, the rebels skirmishing with him to the outskirts of Cork. The rebels in Tipperary and the adjoining parts of Leinster assembled ‘before an idol in Ormonde called the Holy Cross, where again they solemnly swore not to abandon nor forsake one another.’ Everyone saw that a system of garrisons was the only way to break down the confederacy, but this policy was not showy enough to please the new Lord Lieutenant.’[299]


[282] Letter of advice to the Earl of Essex, to take upon him the care of Irish causes, when Mr. Secretary Cecil was in France (February to April, 1598), and a second letter from Bacon a little later, both printed by Spedding, vol. ii. pp. 94-1_0. There are many significant passages in Rowland Whyte’s letters in Sidney Papers, vol. ii. pp. 82-97. Essex was busy with Ireland before Cecil’s departure and before Bacon’s first letter, for Whyte wrote on Jan. 19: ‘Yesterday in the afternoon I went to the Court to attend my Lord of Essex, and he no sooner began to hearken unto me, but in comes my Lord of Thomond, in post from Ireland, and then was I commanded to take some other time.’ And see Chamberlain’s Letters, May 4, 1598. Spenser, who wrote in 1596 proposes that Essex should be Lord-Lieutenant, ‘upon whom the eye of all England is fixed, and our last hopes now rest.’

[283] Fenton to Cecil, June 11; Ormonde to Cecil, June 18. O’Sullivan Bere (tom. iii. lib. iv. cap. iii.) owns to 120 killed in the attempted escalade. The eating of grass by the garrison recalls the defence of Casilinum against Hannibal (Livy, xxiii. 19).

[284] Loftus, Gardiner, Wallop, St. Leger, and Fenton to the Privy Council, Aug. 16; Lords Justices Loftus and Gardiner to the Privy Council (‘in private’), Aug. 17; Ormonde to the Queen, Aug. 18; State of the Queen’s army, March 31, 1598, printed in the National MSS. of Ireland from a paper at Kilkenny.

[285] Lieut. William Taaffe to H. Shee, Aug. 16. He calls the powder-barrels ‘firkins.’ Captain Montague’s Report, Aug. 16; Declaration of the two Captains Kingsmill, Aug. 23, and that of Captain Billings who commanded the rearguard. All the above, with many other papers, are printed either in Irish Arch. Journal, N.S. vol. i. pp. 256-282, or in National MSS. of Ireland, part iv. 1. See also Camden and the Four Masters. There is a minute and nearly contemporary account in O’Sullivan Bere, tom. iii. lib. iv. cap. 5, but he was not present. It is O’Sullivan who mentions the junipers, which do not now grow wild about Armagh. I have carefully inspected the ground, having besides the advantage of consulting two pamphlets kindly sent to me by Mr. E. Rogers of the Armagh Library, whose great local knowledge has been brought to bear on the subject.

[286] O’Sullivan; Montague to Ormonde, Aug. 16. The English accounts specify twelve colours as lost; O’Sullivan says thirty-four.

[287] Ormonde to Cecil, Sept. 15. In writing to the same, on Aug. 24, Ormonde admits the reduced list of twenty-four officers killed and one taken prisoner, 855 men killed and 363 wounded. To these must be added the missing, and there were certainly several hundred deserters. Other English estimates of loss are considerably higher. Camden says 1,500 men were killed.

[288] Four Masters, 1598. Sir C. Clifford to the Lords Justices, Sept. 7; to Cecil, Oct. 30; Lady Clifford’s declaration, Oct. 31.

[289] Lords Justices and Council to the Privy Council, Nov. 23 and 27, 1598. Sir R. Bingham to the Lords Justices (from Naas) Nov. 27. There is a MS. dialogue among the Irish S.P. for 1598, which purports to be the ocular testimony of the writer, Thomas Wilson, and which is dedicated to Essex. The interlocutors are Peregryn and Silvyn—the names of Spenser’s two sons—and the dialogue, which unfolds the state of things in King’s County from harvest 1597 to All Saints’ Day 1598, is very much in the style of that between Irenæus and Eudoxus. Is Thomas Wilson a stalking-horse for Edmund Spenser?

[290] Four Masters, 1598; O’Sullivan, tom. iii. lib. v. cap. 2; Discourse by William Weever (prisoner with the Munster rebels) Sept. 29 to Oct. 10. Fenton to Cecil, April 20, for the Tower story.

[291] Ormonde to James Fitzthomas, Oct. 8, 1598; James ‘Desmonde’ to Ormonde, Oct. 12.

[292] Ormonde to the Queen, Oct. 12, 1598; Chief Justice Saxey’s account, October.

[293] List of castles abandoned without resistance in Ormonde’s letter to the Queen, Oct. 21, 1598; Oliver Stephenson to Norris, Oct. 16; Henry Smyth’s State of Munster ‘as I did see and hear it,’ Oct. 30. An anonymous paper of October gives some details of Raleigh’s settlement at Tallow. See also James Sarsfield, mayor of Cork, to the Privy Council, Oct. 21.

[294] Arthur Hyde to the Privy Council, Oct. 28, 1598; Captain F. Barkley to the Lords Justices, Nov. 3.

[295] Sir T. Norris to the Privy Council and to Cecil, Oct. 23, 1598; W. Weever’s discourse, Oct.; Chief Justice Saxey’s account, Oct.; the Queen to Ormonde and the Lords Justices, Dec. 1, and to Norris, Dec. 3; Moryson, book i. chap. i.; O’Sullivan, tom. iii. lib. v. caps. 1-5; Four Masters, 1598. Dunqueen is close to Slea Head, the westernmost point of Kerry.

[296] Ormonde to the Privy Council, Nov. 5, 1598; Edward Gough and George Sherlock to Sir N. Walshe, Nov. 16. Gough and Walshe held Cistercian lands at Innislonagh and Glandore; Sherlock had those of the Canons Regular at Cahir; but none of the three bore Protestant names.

[297] Ormonde to the Privy Council, Nov. 5, 1598; to the Queen, Jan. 19, 1599; the Queen to Ormonde and the Lords Justices, Dec. 1, 1598, in Carew. Bingham’s appointment as Marshal was announced on Aug. 31, only seventeen days after Bagenal’s death. He reached Ireland in October, and died at Dublin, Jan. 19. A memorial by Cecil, dated Nov. 4, 1598 (in Carew, p. 523), has the words ‘Clifford betrayed, Bingham lightly condemned.’ Bingham’s Irish patent is dated Oct. 13, and the Queen informed the Lords Justices that she had specially chosen him, that he was to draw pay and allowances from the day of Bagenal’s death, and that he was to have all the privileges that had ever attached to the office. Morrin’s Patent Rolls, 40 Eliz. 57 and 58.

[298] Four Masters, 1598 and 1599. The Queen to Sir T. Norris, Dec. 3, 1598, in Carew.

[299] Four Masters, 1599. For Con O’Neill see Carew, March and April, Nos. 299-301; Journal of Sir T. Norris, from March 27 to April 4; Justice Golde to Essex, April 4; Essex to Privy Council, April 29. Lord Roche had a private quarrel with the Sugane Earl.

[Pg 313]



Position of Essex.

Sir Henry Wotton, who was a good judge and who had special means of observation in this case, was of opinion that Essex wore out the Queen’s patience by his petulance. He has recorded that a wise and, as it turned out, prophetic adviser warned the Earl that, though he might sometimes carry a point by sulking at Wanstead, at Greenwich, or in his own chamber, yet in the long run such conduct would lead to ruin. ‘Such courses as those were like hot waters, which help at a pang, but if they be too often used will spoil the stomach.’ The advice was not taken, and Essex continued to treat every check as a personal insult. The natural effect followed, and by the year 1598 ‘his humours grew tart, as being now in the lees of favour.’[300]

He offends the Queen
by his petulance.

Burghley died a few days before the disaster at Blackwater, and Philip II. not many days after. The policy of Spain was not much affected, though the change might be thought like that from Solomon to Rehoboam; but England missed the wise and kindly hand which had often held Essex straight. Bagenal’s overthrow brought into sudden prominence that thorny problem with which the impetuous favourite was of all men the least fit to cope. Patience, steadiness, organising power, knowledge of men, were the qualities needed in Ireland then, as now, and Essex was conspicuously deficient in them all. ‘I will tell you,’ said a great court official, ‘I know but one friend and one enemy my lord hath: and that one friend is the Queen, and that one enemy is himself.’ It seemed as if no misconduct could permanently alienate Elizabeth, and yet he tried her forbearance very[Pg 314] hardly. A few days or weeks before the old Lord Treasurer’s death, she had proposed to send Sir William Knollys, Essex’s uncle, to govern Ireland. The Earl favoured the appointment of Sir George Carew, who was certainly much fitter for the work than himself, and whom he was thought to be anxious to remove from the court. The Queen insisting, he turned his back on her with a gesture of contempt. Raleigh—who was, however, his enemy—says he exclaimed that ‘her conditions were as crooked as her carcase.’ She in turn lost her temper, and gave him a box on the ear. He laid his hand on his sword, swearing that he would not have endured such an indignity from Henry VIII. himself, and immediately departed to Wanstead.

‘Your Majesty hath,’ he afterwards wrote to Elizabeth, ‘by the intolerable wrong you have done both me and yourself, not only broken all laws of affection, but done against the honour of your sex. I think all places better than that where I am, and all dangers well undertaken, so I might retire myself from the memory of my false, inconstant, and beguiling pleasures.’ Of course it was very undignified of the Queen to strike anyone, but many things may be urged in excuse. She was old enough to be her favourite’s grandmother. She had known him from early youth, and she had every reason to look upon him still in the light of a spoiled child. No one with any sense of humour would resent a blow from a woman as from a man, and Essex might very well have treated it all as a joke. But what is to be said for a man who insults a lady well stricken in years, who is his sovereign, and who has heaped upon him honours and benefits far beyond his deserts?[301]

Essex determines to be Viceroy.

Norris and Bingham being dead, the appointment of a[Pg 315] Lord Deputy became a matter of pressing necessity. The Queen thought of Mountjoy, who, as the event proved, was, of all men, fittest for the arduous task. But Essex objected to him, much upon the same grounds as Iago objected to Michael Cassio. He had indeed some experience in the field, but only in subordinate posts; and he was ‘too much drowned in book learning.’ Another argument was that he was a man of small estate and few followers, and that ‘some prime man of the nobility’ should be sent into Ireland. Everyone understood that he had come to want the place himself, and that he would oppose every possible candidate.

During the autumn of 1598 and far into the winter, the affair hung fire, more perhaps from the difficulty of satisfying his demands for extraordinary powers than from any wish to refuse him the dangerous honour. Indeed, if we may believe Camden, his enemies foresaw his failure, and were only too anxious to help him to the viceroyalty on any terms. About the new year his appointment seemed to be certain, and by the first week in March everything was settled. ‘I have beaten Knollys and Mountjoy in the Council,’ Essex wrote in great exultation, ‘and by God I will beat Tyr-Owen in the field; for nothing worthy her Majesty’s honour hath yet been achieved.’ It is not in such boastful mood that great men are wont to put on their armour. And besides all this, Knollys was his uncle and Mountjoy his familiar friend.[302]

His uneasy ambition.

It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to inquire how Essex came to desire such a thankless office as the government of Ireland. His ambition was not of an ignoble cast; but it is certain that he grasped greedily at every important command, and that he could scarcely brook a superior, or even a colleague. This was clearly shown in his ridiculous quarrel with the Lord Admiral about precedence, no less than in more important matters. He probably saw the Irish difficulty well enough, but any hesitation about incurring the risk of failure was more than counterbalanced by the fear of someone else gaining great glory.

[Pg 316]

Bacon’s excuses.

Bacon had advised him to remain at Court, but to take Irish affairs under his special protection there, to consult with men who knew the country, to fill places with his own friends, and to patronise others who were likely to be useful. In short, he was urged to make what the newspapers now call political capital out of Ireland, but not to risk himself and his reputation there. While giving this counsel, Bacon had expressed a fear that the Earl was not the man to play such a game skilfully. And so it fell out. By the beginning of the year 1599 Essex saw that he would have to go. Years afterwards, when Elizabeth was gone, Bacon found that an inconvenient cloud hung over him on account of the part he had played. He then tried to persuade others, and possibly succeeded in persuading himself, that he had really ‘used all means he could devise’ to prevent Essex from venturing into Ireland. The fact seems to be that he kept quiet as long as the thing could have been prevented, and did not try to make Essex reconsider the matter when he decided to go. He afterwards said that he ‘did plainly see his overthrow chained as it were by destiny to that journey’; but at the time he did no more than warn him against possible failure from defects of temper, while he enlarged upon the great glory which would follow success. A comparison of extant letters shows that Essex himself was far more impressed than Bacon with the danger and difficulties of the Irish problem, though, when he was on the eve of setting out, his impulsive nature allowed him to brag of the great things that he was going to do.[303]

Opinions of Wotton and Bacon.

‘I have heard him say,’ writes Wotton of Essex, ‘and not upon any flashes or fumes of melancholy, or traverses of discontent, but in a serene and quiet mood, that he could very well have bent his mind to a retired course.’ This is confirmed by other authorities, and indeed Essex, though he had a soldier’s courage, was by nature a student and a dreamer rather than a man of action. Circumstances brought him forward, and his[Pg 317] character made him uncomfortable in any place except the highest. Bacon wished him to stay at court with a white staff, as Leicester had done, but the work was uncongenial. If he could have succeeded Burghley, perhaps he might have accepted the position; as it was Ireland offered him the kind of power which he most coveted, and though he was not blind to the danger of leaving a Hanno behind him, he fancied that he was fit to play the part of Hannibal. Just as he was starting Bacon wrote him a long letter of advice, reminding him that the Irish rebels were active and their country difficult, but reminding him also that ‘the justest triumphs that the Romans in their greatness did obtain, and that whereof the emperors in their styles took addition and denomination, were of such an enemy as this... such were the Germans and the Ancient Britons, and divers others. Upon which kind of people, whether the victory were a conquest, or a reconquest upon a rebellion or a revolt, it made no difference that ever I could find in honour.’ Years afterwards Bacon pleaded that he had done what he could to stop Essex, on the ground that the expedition would certainly fall short of public expectation and ‘would mightily diminish his reputation.’ Again he mentions the Germans and Britons, the woods and the bogs, the hardness of the Irishmen’s bodies, so that there can be no doubt about what he alludes to. We have the original letter, and Bacon stands convicted of misrepresentation, the grosser because careless observers might so easily confound it with the reality.[304]

Difficulties and delays.

About the beginning of December the number of Essex’s army was fixed at 14,000. Then there was talk of a smaller establishment, and the affair went through the usual hot and[Pg 318] cold phases of all suits at Elizabeth’s court. Spenser had experienced the miseries of hope deferred, and Shakespeare saw the spurns which patient merit of the unworthy takes. ‘Into Ireland I go,’ writes the Earl on New Year’s day; ‘the Queen hath irrevocably decreed it, the Council do passionately urge it, and I am tied in my own reputation to use no tergiversation.’ He had many misgivings, but had decided in his own mind that he was bound to go. ‘The Court,’ he admitted, ‘is the centre, but methinks it is the fairer choice to command armies than humours.’ In the meanwhile the humour changed daily. Essex was not patient, and the whole wrangle must have been inexpressibly distasteful to him. On Twelfth-day the Queen danced with him, and it was decided that he should start in March. Three weeks later there were fresh difficulties about the excessive number of gentlemen whom he proposed to take with him. As late as March 1, it seemed doubtful whether the Queen’s irrevocable decree would not after all be altered. Mountjoy, who had a much cooler head, had earnestly advised his friend to leave nothing to chance, to his enemies’ pleasure, or to official promises, and it is to the Earl’s consciousness that this advice was sound, that the delays must be chiefly attributed. On March 6 letters patent were passed, releasing him from the arrears of his father’s debts incurred in the same thankless Irish service, and six days later he was formally appointed Lord Lieutenant. That title had not been granted since the return of Sussex thirty-seven years before.[305]

Departure of Essex.

On March 27 Essex took horse at Seething Lane, accompanied by a brilliant suite. Prayers were offered in the churches for his success against the imitators of Korah and Absalom, in whose cases God had manifested to the world his[Pg 319] hatred of all rebellion against His divine ordinance, and foreshadowing His probable care for an anointed queen. ‘Do not,’ said the Anglican divines, ‘punish our misdeeds by strengthening the hands of such as despise the truth.’ Through Cornhill and Cheapside, and for more than four miles out of town, the people thronged about their favourite, with such cries as ‘God bless your lordship! God preserve your honour!’ The day was very fine at starting, but ere Islington was passed there came a black north-easter with thunder, hail, and rain; and some held it for a bad omen. Nor did the popular hero travel as though he loved the work or believed in himself. On April 1 he was at Bromley, bitterly complaining that the Queen would not make Sir Christopher Blount a councillor, and announcing that he had sent him back. ‘I shall,’ he wrote, ‘have no such necessary use of his hands, as, being barred the use of his head, I would carry him to his own disadvantage, and the disgrace of the place he should serve in.’ The place was that of Marshal of the army, which Blount did actually fill, and there is no reason to suppose that he would have been any useful addition to the Council. Such virtues as he had, and they were not many, were those of the camp. On the 3rd, Essex was at Tamworth, and on the 5th at Helbry, the island off the Dee which Sir Henry Sidney had found so wearisome. The wind did not serve, and there was a delay of a week before he sailed from Beaumaris, having ridden over Penmaen Mawr, ‘the worst way and in the extremest wet that I have endured.’ After a bad passage Dublin was reached on the 15th. William, 13th Earl of Kildare, ‘with eighteen of the chiefs of Meath and Fingal’ set out to follow in the Lord Lieutenant’s wake. The vessel, built for speed and probably overpressed with canvas, foundered in mid-Channel, and all on board perished.[306]

[Pg 320]

Great expectations,
which cool observers do not share.

The public expectation from the mission of Essex was such that Shakespeare ventured to suggest a possible comparison between him and the victor of Agincourt. Had he succeeded he would have been the hero of the Elizabethan age, greater in the eyes of his contemporaries than Norris or Raleigh, greater even than Drake. His task was, indeed, no light one, for the rebels in arms were estimated at very nearly 20,000 men, of which less than half were in Ulster. In the south and west the chief towns and many detached strongholds were held for the Queen, but in the northern province her power was confined to Carrickfergus and Newry, Carlingford, Greencastle, and Narrow Water, all on the coast, and to one castle in the inland county of Cavan. The preparations were on a scale suitable to the emergency, for 16,000 foot and 1,400 horse far exceeded the usual proportions of a viceregal army. Nor was it composed wholly of raw levies, for Essex insisted on having Sir Henry Docwra, with 2,000 veterans, from Holland; his plan being so to distribute them that some seasoned soldiers should be present everywhere. But there had always been corruption in the Irish service, and cool observers thought it necessary to make allowance for false musters and cooked returns. A crowd of adventurous young gentlemen accompanied Essex, among whom was John Harrington, the Queen’s godson, and by her much admired for his wit. Harrington was advised, by a friend at court, to keep a secret journal in Ireland, for future use in case of disaster. ‘Observe,’ says the letter, ‘the man who commandeth, and yet is commanded himself. He goeth not forth to serve the Queen’s realm, but to humour his own revenge.’ There were spies about him, ‘and when a man hath so many shewing friends, and so many unshewing enemies, who learneth his end here below?’ Cecil cautioned Secretary Fenton that the new Lord Lieutenant thought ill of him because of his friendship with Sir John Norris. Justice Golde of Munster, who knew his country well, hoped Essex’s ‘famous victory in mighty Spain would not be subject to receive blemish in miserable Ireland.’ It did not require the penetration of a Bacon to see that the ex[Pg 321]pedition was likely to end in failure, and in the ruin of the chief actor.[307]

Powers given to Essex.

The Lord Lieutenant’s commission was of the most ample kind. He was authorised to lease the land of rebels generally, and more particularly to give or grant property affected by the attainder of Tyrone and others in Tyrone, Tyrconnell, Fermanagh, Leitrim, and the Route, exceptions being made in favour of O’Dogherty and Sir Arthur O’Neill, as rebels by compulsion rather than through disloyalty. Officers not holding by patent he was empowered to dismiss, and even patentees might be suspended. He might grant pardons for all treasons, but in Tyrone’s case he was only to pardon for life, and not for lands, and to exact some guarantee before giving even life and liberty to one who had ‘so vilely abused her mercy.’ That ‘capital traitor’ was in no case to be spared without due submission first made in all lowly and reverend form. The power of making knights had usually been granted to viceroys, and had been sometimes abused by them. This touched Elizabeth in her tenderest point, for it was by not letting it become too cheap that she had made knighthood a real defence of the nation. Essex was charged to ‘confer that title upon none that shall not deserve it by some notorious service, or have not in possession or reversion sufficient living to maintain their degree and calling.’[308]

Sir Arthur Chichester.

Among the officers serving under Essex in Ireland was Sir Arthur Chichester, whose value he had learned during[Pg 322] the Cadiz expedition. In his capacity of Earl Marshal he directed Chichester to take a muster of 2,600 at Chester; but it was to Cecil that the latter owed his appointment to command a regiment of 1,200 men, and it was to him that he applied for the pay due to his brother John when slain at Carrickfergus, remarking at the same time that he was a ‘better soldier than suitor.’ Cecil had protested against so able a man being wasted in the command of a mere company. Chichester landed at Dublin; and went to Drogheda, which Essex visited on purpose to review a regiment of which he had heard so much. The veterans, who came straight from the strict school of the Ostend siege, made an imposing show on parade, and the Lord Lieutenant thoughtlessly charged them with his mounted staff. The pikemen did not quite see the joke, and stood so firm that Essex had to pull his horse back on its haunches, and ‘a saucy fellow with his pike pricked his Lordship (saving your reverence) in the rump and made him bleed.’ Chichester was sent to his brother’s old post at Carrickfergus, and there he was generally quartered till the end of the war and of the reign.[309]

Essex postpones his departure for Ulster.

‘This noble and worthy gentleman our lord and master,’ said Wotton, who was one of his secretaries, ‘took the sword and sway of this unsettled kingdom into his hands 15th instant,’ adding that the Bishop of Meath preached a grave, wise, and learned sermon on the occasion. Essex was instructed to inform himself by conference with the Council, and the result of several meetings was a resolution not to attack Tyrone and O’Donnell, but rather to plague those Leinster allies who had lately taken a solemn oath of allegiance to them in Holy Cross Abbey. Want of forage, involving lean cattle and weak draught-horses, was the reason given for inaction; but it is proverbial that a council of war never fights, and the Lord Lieutenant was but too ready to adopt a dilatory policy. ‘A present prosecution in Leinster, being the heart of the whole kingdom,’ was what the Council advised, and if[Pg 323] that plan had been adhered to, there was a good deal to be said in its favour. About 30,000 rebels were reported to be in arms altogether; and of these the home province contained 3,000 natives, besides 800 mercenaries from Ulster. The mountains of Wicklow and Dublin had not been quieted by the death of Feagh MacHugh; his sons, with other O’Byrnes and O’Tooles, still carried on the war, while the bastard Geraldines and a remnant of the Eustaces were out in Kildare. Carlow and Wexford were terrorised by Donell Spaniagh and his Kavanaghs. Owen MacRory commanded a powerful band of O’Mores in Queen’s County, and in King’s County there were still many unsubdued O’Connors. Lord Mountgarret and the O’Carrolls were also reckoned as rebels. Meath and Westmeath were full of armed bands, while Longford and Louth had suffered greatly by incursions from Ulster. A force of 3,000 foot and 300 horse was sent forward to Kilcullen, and on May 10 Essex set out from Dublin to take the command.[310]

Campaign in Leinster.

From Kilcullen bridge on the Liffey to Athy bridge on the Barrow, the line of march lay through a wooded country, and stray shots, which did no harm, were fired at advanced parties. Athy was found to be decayed through the disturbed state of the country, but the castle was surrendered without difficulty, and Ormonde made his appearance, accompanied by his kinsmen Lords Mountgarret and Cahir, both of whom had been considered in rebellion. About 200 rebels showed themselves, but retired to bogs and woods on the advance of Southampton with a detachment. Lord Grey de Wilton was carried by his impetuosity further forward than his orders warranted, and was placed under arrest for a night.[Pg 324] Both lords had cause to regret what was perhaps an ill-judged exercise of authority. Sir Christopher St. Lawrence here distinguished himself by swimming across the Barrow, recovering some stolen horses, and returning with one of the marauder’s heads.

Owen MacRory O’More.

After three or four days the provision train came up, and Maryborough was relieved; the rebels not venturing to make their threatened attack at Blackford near Stradbally. From Maryborough, which Harrington calls ‘a fort of much importance, but of contemptible strength,’ Essex made his way to Lord Mountgarret’s house at Ballyragget. The line of march lay through a wooded pass; where the O’Mores had dug ditches and made breastworks of the fallen trees. Essex showed both skill and activity, but he lost three officers and several men; and the natives could hardly have hoped to stop a viceregal army between Dublin and Kilkenny. One Irish account says the English loss was great, and another notes the capture of many plumed helmets, from which the place was named the ‘pass of feathers.’ The accounts agree that Owen MacRory had not more than about 500 men with him, and Harrington says he offered to have a fight with sword and target between fifty chosen men on each side. Essex agreed to this, but the Irish did not appear. The Lord Lieutenant did not risk as much as Perrott had formerly done, when he proposed to decide the war by a duel with Fitzmaurice, but Ormonde must have remembered that day well, and can hardly have thought this later piece of knight-errantry much less foolish.[311]

Campaign in Munster.

The Kilkenny people expressed their joy at the arrival of Essex ‘by lively orations and silent strewing of the streets with green herbs and rushes,’ and he received a similar wel[Pg 325]come at Clonmel. But he did not like the Latin oration delivered at the latter town: it adjured him not to bear the sword of justice in vain, while he anxiously protested that it was for the exercise of clemency that ‘her Majesty had given him both sword and power.’

Siege of Cahir.

Essex was now in Munster, and his resolution first to subdue the home province had been thrown to the winds. Derrinlaur Castle, which annoyed the navigation of the Suir, was surrendered; its indefensibility had been proved in 1574, and the fate of the garrison was doubtless well remembered. Another castle higher up the river gave more trouble. Lord Cahir was in the viceregal camp, but his brother James (called Galdie or the Englishman) undertook to defend the family stronghold, and it was necessary to bring up heavy artillery. The want of foresight which characterised this campaign was conspicuously shown here. The battering train, ‘one cannon and one culverin,’ was brought up by water to Clonmel, but no draught horses had been provided, nor were there any means of strengthening the bridges, which might sink under so unusual a weight. The guns were slowly dragged by men all the way to Cahir, of the strength of which there is an elaborate official account. The critical Harrington admits that it was not built with any great art, but that nature had made it practically impregnable, which was not true even in those days. An assault would have been difficult, for the castle was then surrounded by water; but a battery, which completely commanded it, was easily planted near the site of the present railway station. Lord Cahir called upon his brother to surrender, but was answered by threats and insults. Two days later the guns came, were placed at once in position, and opened fire in a few hours; but the carriage of the largest ‘brake at the second shot,’ and took a day and a half to repair. A ball stuck in the culverin, but that too was cleared in time, and fifty rounds from this light piece was enough to silence the garrison on that side. An orchard under the south-west wall was occupied the same night, and most of the garrison escaped by the left bank of the river; but two of the English captains were killed. Before[Pg 326] a breach could be effected the White Knight threw in reinforcements, and the besiegers made another lodgment at the north-east end of the island. The cannonade was renewed at close quarters, and on the night of the third day the garrison made a sally. The intended assault had been assigned to Sir Charles Percy and Sir Christopher St. Lawrence, with four companies of the Flanders veterans, who repulsed the attack and entered the castle along with the Irish, of whom about eighty were killed. A few escaped by swimming, and the guns were soon mounted on the deserted walls. Having repaired damages and placed a garrison of 100 men in the castle, the Lord Lieutenant marched northward along the left bank of the Suir. He made much of this siege, which was the single thing he had to boast of in Munster, but it was a small matter after all. A year later James Butler, with sixty men, again got possession of this ‘inexpugnable’ fortress without firing a shot, but soon surrendered to Carew, whose bare threats were enough to secure his object.[312]

Death of Sir Thomas Norris.
Irish tactics.

The bridge at Golden was repaired and the army passed to Tipperary, where a letter was received from Sir Thomas Norris, whom Essex had already met at Kilkenny. The Lord President announced that he had been wounded in a skirmish with the Castleconnel Burkes, but he recovered sufficiently to accompany Essex in part of his Munster campaign. The wound seems to have been fatal at last, for on August he was dangerously ill, and in September commissioners were appointed to execute duties which had been neglected since his death. The Lord-Lieutenant himself was well received at[Pg 327] Limerick, and entertained with two English orations, ‘in which,’ says Harrington, ‘I know not which was more to be discommended—words, composition, or oratory, all of which having their peculiar excellencies in barbarism, harshness, and rustical, both pronouncing and action.’ After several days’ rest the next operation was to revictual Askeaton, and the Sugane Earl showed himself at Adare with 2,000 or 3,000 men. The bridge was not defended, but the Irish galled the army in passing a boggy wood beyond the Maigue, and the soldiers ‘went so coldly on’ that Essex had to reproach their baseness. Harrington describes the enemy as ‘rather morrice-dancers tripping after their bag-pipes’ than soldiers, and declares that in all Munster they never once strayed from the edge of their woods ‘further than an old hunted hare doth from her covert for relief.’ Some fighting there was, and the official account makes much of the Irish losses and little of the Lord-Lieutenant’s; but Harrington says that Plunkett, an insurgent captain who was supposed to have shown slackness, had next day to give Desmond hostages for his good behaviour. As Essex passed through each hedge, the thorns closed behind him, and left the state of Munster unaltered.[313]

End of Munster campaign.
Death of Sir Henry Norris.

Askeaton was easily victualled by water from Limerick, and Essex turned aside to Conna near Lismore, where Desmond had his chief residence. The move was thought a strange one, and Harrington could only conjecture that he wished to ‘give the rebels an inexcusable provocation,’ but O’Sullivan, much less ingeniously, says that he did not dare to proceed further westward. At Finniterstown the army had to pass between two woods, and had a sharp fight with Desmond, who had been joined by Lord Fitzmaurice and some of the MacCarthies. Captain Jennings was killed, Sir Henry Norris had his leg broken by a bullet, and a third officer was shot through both cheeks. Norris ‘endured amputation with[Pg 328] extraordinary patience,’ but died a few weeks afterwards, making the third of these famous six brothers who had fallen a victim to the Irish service. After an interval, which was allowed to elapse for fear of causing fresh sorrow, the Queen wrote to condole with Lord and Lady Norris on the ‘bitter accident’ which had deprived them of two more sons, and the survivor was ordered home from Holland to comfort them.

The army then marched by Croom to Bruff, whence Essex went with Ormonde, Blount, St. Leger, and Carew to consult the Lord President at Kilmallock. They agreed that there was no money, no magazine, no remnant of any kind of victual of her Majesty’s stores, cows enough for only two days, and hardly ammunition for three. On Norris promising to procure some beeves out of Lord Barry’s country and to send them to Conna the advance was resumed, the line of march being over the Ballyhoura hills to Glanworth and Fermoy. Essex himself went to Mallow, detached a party to Cork for the promised supplies, and then rejoined the army with Cormac MacDermot MacCarthy, who brought 100 cows and 200 kerne. There was some fighting, and Sir Henry Danvers was wounded between Fermoy and Conna; but the latter castle was dismantled. Lord Barry brought the convoy safely to Castle Lyons, and the Blackwater was passed at Affane, a ford which was only practicable for one hour at low water. The President returned from the neighbourhood of Dungarvan with 1,000 men, with which he expected to be able to maintain the war in his province, and Essex marched without fighting through Lord Power’s country to Waterford.[314]

Defeat of Harrington in Wicklow.

In pursuance of his original intention to settle Leinster before going further afield, Essex had proposed to give Sir Henry Harrington, seneschal of Wicklow, 700 foot and 50 horse, 300 of these to be seasoned soldiers. His sudden[Pg 329] resolution to attack Munster altered this, and the work was left to ‘four new companies and Captain Adam Loftus, his company of foot, who were all Irish and most of them lately come from the rebels; myself,’ Harrington plaintively adds, ‘without either horse or foot, or any penny of entertainment.’ The O’Byrnes had fortified the passage of the Avonmore near Rathdrum, and, in order to accustom his troops to the presence of an enemy, Harrington led them out several miles and encamped near the river. This was on May 28, when Essex was before Cahir. Phelim MacHugh sent peaceful messages to Harrington, which can have had no object but to disarm his suspicion. Next morning the Irish were in considerable force, and, after reconnoitring, the seneschal ordered a return to Wicklow. The enemy pressed on his rear and hung on his flanks, the ground being for the most part bush, wood, and bog. A stream which crossed the road was safely forded, but some signs of insubordination appeared in Loftus’s company, which was explained by an attempt on the part of his subalterns to gain over some of the hostile kerne who had formerly fought on the Queen’s side. If this was a stratagem on the part of the O’Byrnes it was completely successful. Loftus did his best in the rear, the post of danger in a retreat, but received a wound from which he afterwards died. His men immediately ran away, and, although no one pursued, never stopped till they got to Wicklow. The Irish then charged down the road, and the main body of infantry behaved no better. ‘I persuaded them,’ says Captain Atherton, ‘but to turn their faces and it should be sufficient for their safety, but they never offered to turn, nor speak, but, as men without sense or feeling, ran upon one another’s backs, it not being possible to break by reason of the captains, which endeavoured by all means to stay them, but all in vain.’ As soon as the ground allowed them, the soldiers broke in all directions, throwing away their arms and even their clothes. Captain Charles Montague, who had already done such good service at Blackwater, handled his troop of horse well, and, though wounded in several places, brought off all the colours, and covered the retreat of the few foot soldiers who retained[Pg 330] any kind of order. Captain Wardman was killed, and this was the end of Essex’s great scheme for the settlement of Leinster.[315]

Essex returns to Dublin,

At Waterford, the Lord-Lieutenant was ‘received with two Latin orations, and with as much joyful concourse of people as any other town of Ireland.’ He inspected the fort of Duncannon, and Harrington, who amused himself in country quarters by reading books on fortification, and who hoped at coming home to talk of ‘counterscarps and casemates,’ shoots his wit at the expense of Sir John Norris in his capacity of engineer. Stripped of technicalities and Italian terms of art, the criticism is that the fort was too confined, and that it was commanded from the land side. The wit forgot that Irish rebels had no artillery, and did not notice that the course of the channel forced all ships of any size to come close under the walls. Against a Parma or a Spinola the defences would have availed little, but after-events proved that Duncannon was an important post in Irish warfare. Boats were brought from Carrick and New Ross, and the army was ferried over from Passage to Ballyhack. This proved a long operation, ‘the boats not being great, and the carriage of our army far greater than ever heretofore in this country followed so few fighting men,’ in which statement the reason of Essex’s failure is perhaps contained. The line of march lay by Ballibrennan to a ford over the Slaney, between Enniscorthy and Ferns. The direct road to Dublin was by Carnew, but the Duffry was a land of woods and hills, swarming with rebels and practicable only for a fighting force; whereas Essex could muster no more than 1,200 effective men, clogged with hurt and sick, and ‘with at least thrice as many churls, horseboys, and other like unserviceable people which were of necessity to be guarded.’ It was, therefore, determined to go by the coast, and no enemy appeared until Gorey had been passed. From this, villages and houses were burned on both sides of the road ‘to whet the rebels choler and[Pg 331] courage,’ who made a stand at a river four miles south of Arklow.

Essex himself passed the deep water with his horse, and Ormonde led the rest of the army over a better ford near the seaside. The Irish, who were about 1,000 strong, did not venture to close, but skirmished on the left flank, the broken ground being too far off for them to do much harm. Captain Lawrence Esmond was, however, killed. Essex endeavoured to draw the enemy down by masking a part of his force, but the natives, as Harrington observes, were not easily to be drawn into an ambuscade. Ormonde and Blount, with the head of the column, advanced to the seaside, hidden from the others by the shape of the ground. The Irish, being on the height, saw their advantage, and very nearly succeeded in cutting off the baggage train in the centre. A hard fight followed, and a charge of Southampton’s horse just saved the army from a great disaster. Several of his men were bogged and in great danger. Captain Constable escaped with two wounds, and Mr. Seth Cox, ‘a gentleman whose industry had adorned him with much both science and language’ was killed. Captain Roche, an Irishman by birth, who had long served the French king, had his leg shattered by a shot.

having effected nothing.

After some more fighting, the rebels were beaten off with the loss of 100 men. Donell Spaniagh, Phelim MacFeagh, and Owen MacRory were all present, and were willing to treat upon protection being granted. Essex sent word to Phelim that he might have a safe-conduct as far as Arklow if he would come and sue for mercy as a repentant rebel, but that a messenger sent for any other purpose would be hanged. Dublin was reached without further fighting, and the Irish annalists, with whom Harrington is in almost verbal agreement, may be left to sum up the results of the expedition. While the ‘army was in Munster,’ say the Four Masters, ‘the Geraldines continued to follow, pursue, and press upon them, to shoot at, wound, and slaughter them. When the Earl had arrived in the Decies, the Geraldines returned in exultation and high spirits to their territories and houses.... In[Pg 332] Leinster they marched not by a prosperous progress, for the Irish were pursuing and environing them, so that they slew great numbers in every road by which they passed.... They said it would have been better for the Earl if he had not gone on this expedition, as he returned back without having received submission or respect from the Geraldines, and without having achieved any exploit worth boasting of, excepting only the taking of Cahir.[316]

Severity of Essex.

Essex lost no time in holding a court-martial on the officers and men of Harrington’s force. Piers Walsh, Loftus’s Irish lieutenant, who was certainly guilty of cowardice, and perhaps of treacherously communicating with the enemy, was shot; all, or nearly all, the soldiers, had run away; they were sentenced to be hanged, and were actually decimated. The other officers, ‘though they forsook not their places assigned them, but were forsaken by the soldiers, yet because in such an extremity they did not something very extraordinary... were all cashiered’ and imprisoned. Harrington himself, being a Privy Councillor, was not tried, but was placed under arrest during her Majesty’s pleasure. His thirty years’ service were not forgotten in England, and he soon returned to his duty. The decimation was not approved of, and Wotton notes it as a piece of Roman discipline, and as an instance of Essex’s tendency to severity. On the voyage to the Azores he had thrown a soldier overboard with his own hands.[317]

Dissatisfaction of Elizabeth.

Instead of settling Leinster as announced, the Lord Lieutenant had only succeeded in getting rid of his army. ‘The poor men,’ he wrote, ‘that marched eight weeks together be very weary, and the horsemen so divided that I cannot draw 300 to a head.’ And still he promised to overthrow Tyrone, or be himself slain, if he could find him ‘on hard ground and in an open country,’ which he was as little likely to do as Glendower was to draw spirits from the vasty deep. There had been sharp letters about his making Southampton general[Pg 333] of the horse. His commission gave him power to do this, but the Queen had expressed her personal repugnance to such promotion. She disliked the formation of what, in later Irish history, has been called ‘a family party.’ Blount was Essex’s stepfather, though about his own age, and Southampton had without leave married his cousin, Elizabeth Vernon, who was a maid of honour. Essex tried to maintain the appointment against the Queen’s will, mainly on the ground that no volunteer would adhere to him when thus discountenanced; but Elizabeth said she did not see that Southampton’s counsel or experience could be of any particular value, and refused to believe that ‘the voluntary gentlemen are so discouraged thereby as they begin to desire passports and prepare to return.’ The Lord-Lieutenant had to submit, and Southampton continued to serve as a volunteer. The account rendered for two months showed no great balance in the Queen’s favour, and it is evident that she thought pretty much as the Irish did about the futility of the Munster journey. He had, she said, ‘brought in never a capital rebel, against whom it had been worthy to have adventured 1,000 men; for of these two comings in that were brought unto you by Ormonde (namely, Mountgarret and Cahir), whereupon ensued the taking of Cahir Castle, full well do we know that you would long since have scorned to have allowed it for any great matter in others to have taken an Irish hold from a rabble of rogues with such force as you had, and with the help of the cannon, which was always able in Ireland to make his passage where it pleased.’[318]

Essex on his defence.

Before the end of May Cecil knew that Essex intended to visit Munster, so as to make things safe there before going to the North, and he expresses no opinion on the subject. But the Queen soon grew uneasy, and complained that she was giving the Earl 1,000l. a day to make progresses with. When the results of two months’ expenditure were known, her indignation burst forth. Nothing had been done but what President Norris might have done as well, and she was especially displeased ‘that it must be the Queen of Englan[Pg 334]d’s fortune (who hath held down the greatest enemy she had) to make a base Irish kerne to be accounted so famous a rebel.’ Ireland was in a state worse than that in which Ormonde had left it, and Tyrone was announcing to continental nations ‘defeats of regiments, deaths of captains, and loss of men of quality in every corner.’ Essex entrusted regiments to young gentlemen, and made such a fuss that the rebels were always fully prepared. This was just criticism, and indeed the Earl’s own story tallies with it. He provides the excuse also, but he had only found out what was known to hundreds of officers who had served in Ireland. The rebels, he said, were much more numerous than the soldiers, and for light warfare they were both naturally more active and better trained to fight. The Queen’s gallant officers and gentlemen of quality did more good than all the rest, and the real difficulty was to restrain their ardour, whereas the rebel leaders ‘dare never put themselves to any hazard, but send their kerne and their hirelings to fight with her Majesty’s troops.’ English officers with cavalry could always win in the open, and towns were in no danger; but in bogs and woods he was loth to ‘wager the lives of noblemen and gentlemen against rogues and naked beggars.’

These were the commonplaces of Irish warfare since Surrey’s and Skeffington’s days, and Essex was learning his lesson at an enormous cost.[319]

Campaign in Leix and Offaly.

The Lord-Lieutenant was ill, of the malady which nearly proved fatal in the following year, and the results of overwork and failure were not lessened by rebukes from the Queen. An intended expedition into Leix and Offaly was noticed by her as unworthy of his rank, but yet he determined to go. Blount was first sent to victual Maryborough, and the sergeant-major to Philipstown. Captain William Williams commanded at the latter place, and he had just lost 60 men by allowing them to fall into an ambuscade. There was no difficulty in relieving the forts, but when Essex him[Pg 335]self followed, he had some sharp fighting on the border of Westmeath. The Irish were commanded by Captain Tyrrell, a noted English or Anglo-Irish partisan in Tyrone’s pay, who always kept 200 men with him. In days long gone by, the Anglo-Norman Tyrrells had driven the O’Dooleys from Fartullagh, and now they were in arms against the Queen of England’s representative. Sir Conyers Clifford came from Connaught, to meet the Lord-Lieutenant, and his horsemen fought bravely on foot in a country where there was no place for cavalry. ‘In all this journey,’ says Harrington, who came with the Connaught troops, ‘I was comrade to the Earl of Kildare, and slept both on one pillow every night for the most part; here at the parting, my lord gave Sir Griffin Markham great commendations, and made him colonel and commander of all the horse in Connaught; and gave me and some others the honour of knighthood in the field.’

Clifford lost many men before effecting the juncture, and yet the natives were so completely surprised that they had no time even to hide their children. Many hundred cows were taken, but the result of the expedition was that Essex returned to Dublin and Clifford to Connaught.[320]

Anger of Elizabeth.
The cheap defence of nations.

At the beginning of August, the Irish Council demanded 2,000 fresh men for the expedition to the North, but before an answer came, they declared that nothing could be done for the year. It is difficult to say how far this inconsistency was caused by the fluctuations of Essex’s own temper, but it was clear that he did not inspire confidence. The Queen granted the reinforcements, while severely criticising the conduct of both Lord-Lieutenant and Council. She had been repeatedly told, and could very well believe, that a garrison at Lough Foyle was the chief thing needful. ‘We doubt not,’ she said, ‘but to hear by the next that it is begun and not in question.’ In the meantime the garrisons in Connaught and Munster and in the midland forts seemed scarcely able to maintain them[Pg 336]selves. ‘We can hope of no success,’ she said sarcastically, ‘than to be able to keep our towns which were never lost, and some petty holds of small importance, with more than three parts of our army, it being decreed for the head of the rebellion, that our forces shall not find our way this year to behold him.’ She could not understand how no more than 5,000 men were available, instead of at least double that number; and, indeed, it is not easy to understand even now. And there were other things to make her angry. Essex had been specially ordered to make no knights except for some striking service, and he now made no less than fifty-nine, without having anything to show for it. The court news-writer, from whom we learn so much, notes that he had begun by dozens and scores, and had now fallen to ‘huddle them up by half-hundreds; and it is noted as a strange thing, that a subject, in the course of seven or eight years, should, upon so little service and small desert, make more knights than in all the realm besides; and it is doubted, that if he continues this course, he will shortly bring in tag and rag, cut and long-tail, and so bring the order into contempt.’[321]

Defeat of Sir Conyers Clifford (August).
Death of Clifford.

It may be doubtful whether Essex intended again to take the dilatory advice of his Council, or whether he would have been stung into action by the Queen’s taunts. A great disaster seems to have finally determined him, though it should probably have had the contrary effect. O’Connor Sligo had been with Essex in Munster, whence he returned to Collooney, the only castle which he had preserved from O’Donnell, and where he was at once beleaguered by him. Essex ordered Clifford to relieve him and to occupy Sligo, by which means he hoped to distract Tyrone’s attention. Clifford, with a force of something under 2,000 men, went to Boyle, and, in spite of the Lord Lieutenant’s caution against over-confidence, resolved to pass the Curlew mountains without resting his men, after two days’ march in the hot harvest weather. He does not seem to have expected any opposition, but O’Donnell had been watching the pass for weeks, and had given orders that[Pg 337] the army should be allowed to get well on to the mountain before they were attacked. The Irish scouts saw them leave the abbey of Boyle, so that there was plenty of time for O’Donnell to bring up his forces. On arriving at the narrowest part of the pass between Boyle and Ballinafad, Clifford found it strongly defended by a breastwork, and held by 400 men, who fired a volley, and then fell back. The road up the mountain, which consisted of ‘stones six or seven foot broad, lying above ground, with plashes of bog between them,’ ran through boggy woods, from which the Irish galled the soldiers, who exhausted their powder with little effect. Sir Alexander Radclyffe, commanding the advance guard, was mortally wounded, and as no reinforcement came up, a panic ensued, and the whole array were driven pell-mell back to Boyle. Sir John Mac Swiney, an Irish officer in the Queen’s service, faced the enemy almost alone, cursing the vileness of his men, and ‘died fighting, leaving the example of his virtue to be intituled by all honourable posterities.’ Only the horse under Sir Griffin Markham behaved well, covering the retreat and charging boldly up hill ‘among rocks and bogs, where never horse was seen to charge before.’ Markham had his arm broken by a shot, and Sir Conyers Clifford was killed while trying to rally his men. Harrington thought the imagination of the soldiers was bewitched, and cites the extraordinary escape of Rory Oge from his cousin Sir Henry in 1577, when they thought ‘he had, by magic, compelled them not to touch him’; but this panic is easily explained by the moral effect of recent defeats. So far as Ireland went, people were losing their faith in Elizabeth’s star.[322]

Effects of this disaster.

O’Rourke, who remained in possession of the field, cut off Clifford’s head and sent it to O’Donnell, and MacDermot, in a letter which Harrington very justly characterised as ‘bar[Pg 338]barous for the Latin, but civil for the sense,’ announced that, for the love he bore the governor, he had carried his headless trunk to the neighbouring monastery of Lough Cé. He was ready to exchange it for his own prisoners or to give it decent burial himself, and he would offer no obstacle to the burial of other officers. ‘The Irish of Connaught,’ say the Four Masters, ‘were not pleased at the Governor’s death, for he had been a bestower of jewels and riches upon them, and he had never told them a falsehood.’ The same authorities say the Irish did not attribute their victory to arms, but to the miracle of the Lord and to the special intercession of the Blessed Mary. Nor was superstition confined to the victorious party, for not only did the English soldiers talk of magic, but Clifford himself was said to have prophetically dreamed of his capture by O’Donnell, and of being carried by monks into their convent. The defeat was particularly disastrous, because Clifford’s troops were not raw recruits, as Harrington’s had been. Essex determined to employ them no more, except to defend walls. The immediate result of the battle was that O’Connor Sligo submitted to Tyrone, and became a loyal subject of the real king of Ireland.[323]

A council of war decides to do nothing.

Essex’s first and natural impulse was ‘to revenge or follow worthy Conyers Clifford,’ but others thought that very little could be done. In early spring it had been decided to wait till the summer, and now in harvest-time the season for fighting was considered to be past. Again the General placed his fate in the hands of a council of war, and again his advisers resolved to do nothing. ‘The Lords, Colonels, and Knights of the army,’ as they style themselves, declared that there were less than 4,000 men available for a campaign, that many soldiers deserted to the rebels, ran away to England, feigned sickness, or hid themselves. The uniform ill-success of the Queen’s army had lately been such that her troops had no heart for the Ulster enterprise, and it was certain that they[Pg 339] would be greatly outnumbered by the rebels. ‘The Connaught army consisting of a great part of old companies being lately defeated,’ there was no chance of establishing a post at Lough Foyle, and in any case there were not men enough to garrison it, and the same would apply still more strongly to Armagh and Blackwater, whither provisions could not be brought by sea. For these reasons, and being thoroughly aware of the state of the army, the officers declared against any journey far north. ‘In which resolution,’ they say, ‘if any man suspected it proceeded of weakness or baseness, we will not only in all likely and profitable service disprove him, but will every one of us deal with his life, that we dissuaded this undertaking with more duty than any man could persuade unto it.’ The Queen was very angry with the Lord Lieutenant for calling in ‘so many of those that are of so slender judgment, and none of our council,’ to keep men from censuring his proceedings, and there can be little doubt that it was a weak device to shift the responsibility. Seven days after the officers’ declaration, Essex left Dublin, resolved to go as far and do as much ‘as duty would warrant, and God enable him.’ This meant that he would fight Tyrone if the arch-rebel would forego his advantage of position and come out to battle. ‘If he have as much courage as he pretendeth, we will, on one side or the other, end the war.’ He had come to see that the ‘beating of Tyrone in the field’ depended upon the good pleasure of that chief, and it would have been well for his fame had he mastered that elementary truth before he undertook to censure better soldiers and wiser men than himself.[324]

Essex goes to the north.
Tyrone in sight.

Essex left Dublin on August 28, with the intention of placing a garrison at Donaghmoyne in Farney. That land of lakes and hills was his own inheritance by the Queen’s patent to his father, and he may have had some idea of securing his own as well as of annoying Tyrone. He travelled through Navan and Kells, and at Castle Keran, beyond[Pg 340] the latter town, he mustered an army of 3,700 foot and 300 horse. But the idea of establishing an outpost either in Monaghan or Cavan was quickly abandoned for three reasons, any of which would have been ample by itself. It was not worth doing, since there was nothing to defend beyond Kells. It could not be done, because it would be impossible to bring provisions on horseback from Drogheda. Last and not least, Tyrone was in Farney, ready to burn the Pale up to Dublin gates as soon as the Lord Lieutenant’s rearguard had passed. It was resolved that Kells should be the frontier garrison, and the army marched to Ardee. The camp was so placed that Tyrone’s could be seen on the other side of the Lagan, and there was some small skirmishing when a party was sent down to cut firewood near the river. Next day Essex advanced to the Mills of Louth, and encamped on the left bank of the Lagan. Tyrone made a flank march at the same time, and the two armies were quite close together, the Irish keeping the woods, though 10,000 or 11,000 strong. Sir William Warren, who was used to treating with Tyrone, went to seek the enlargement of a prisoner, and next day Henry O’Hagan came to ask for a parley. ‘If thy master,’ Essex is reported to have said, ‘have any confidence either in the justness of his cause, or in the goodness and number of his men, or in his own virtue, of all which he vainly glorieth, he will meet me in the field so far advanced before the head of his kerne as myself shall be separated from the front of my troops, where we will parley in that fashion which best becomes soldiers.’ Vainglory there was, but rather upon the challenger’s own side; it was as a general, and not as a champion, that Elizabeth had sent her favourite to Ireland.[325]

Essex meets Tyrone,
and retires without fighting.

Next day Essex offered battle, which of course was refused by the enemy, but Tyrone again sent to desire a parley. A garrison was placed at Newrath near the mill of Louth, and on the following day the army marched towards Drumcondra. They had scarcely gone a mile when O’Hagan came[Pg 341] again, and ‘speaking,’ like Rabshakeh, ‘so loud as all might hear that were present,’ announced that Tyrone ‘desired her Majesty’s mercy, and that the Lord Lieutenant would hear him; which, if his lordship agreed to, he would gallop about and meet him at the ford of Bellaclinthe, which was on the right hand by the way which his lordship took to Drumcondra.’ Essex sent two officers to see the place, who reported that the ford was too wide for the purpose; but Tyrone, who knew the ground, found a spot ‘where he, standing up to his horse’s belly, might be near enough to be heard by the Lord Lieutenant, though he kept to the hard ground.... Seeing Tyrone there alone, his lordship went down alone. At whose coming Tyrone saluted his lordship with much reverence, and they talked above half-an-hour together, and after went either of them to their companies on the hills.’ Of all the foolish things Essex ever did, this was the most foolish. By conversing with the arch-rebel without witnesses he left it open to his enemies to put the worst construction on all he did, and he put it out of his own power to offer any valid defence. Two days before he had declared war to the knife, and now he was ready to talk familiarly with his enemy, and practically to concede all without striking a blow. A more formal meeting followed with six witnesses on each side. Tyrone’s were his brother Cormac MacBaron, Magennis, Maguire, Ever MacCowley, Henry Ovington, and Richard Owen, ‘that came from Spain, but is an Irishman by birth.’ Southampton, St. Leger, and four other officers of rank accompanied the Lord Lieutenant. By way of humility, the Irish party rode into the river, ‘almost to their horse’s bellies,’ while Essex and his followers kept on the bank. Tyrone spoke uncovered, saluting the viceregal party ‘with a great deal of respect,’ and it was arranged that a further conference should take place next morning. Essex continued his march to Drumcondra, but Tyrone came himself to the place of meeting—a ford where the Lagan bridge now stands. Wotton was one of the commissioners on the Lord Lieutenant’s part, and it is not likely that the negotiation suffered in his hands. He was chosen as the fittest person ‘to counterpoise the[Pg 342] sharpness of Henry Ovington’s wit.’ The result was a cessation of arms for six weeks to six weeks until May, either side being at liberty to break it on giving fourteen days’ notice. If any of Tyrone’s allies refused to be bound, the Lord Lieutenant was left at liberty to attack them. To save Essex’s honour it was agreed to that his ratification should be by word simply, but that Tyrone’s should be on oath. Next day the Lord Lieutenant went to take physic at Drogheda, and Tyrone retired with all his forces into the heart of his country, having gained without fighting a greater victory than that of the Yellow Ford. Bagenal was defeated, the Earl of Essex was disgraced; one had lost his life, the other his reputation.[326]

The Queen blames Essex severely,
and he leaves Ireland without leave.

‘If these wars end by treaty,’ Wotton had said on his first arrival, ‘the Earl of Tyrone must be very humble.’ But the wars were ended so far as Essex was concerned, and the rebels had conceded nothing. A week before his meeting with Tyrone, Essex had written to the Queen, warning her to expect nothing from a man weary of life, whose past services had been requited by ‘banishment and proscription into the most cursed of all countries,’ and almost suggesting that he meditated suicide as the only means of escape. Nor were Elizabeth’s letters such as to encourage him. He had disappointed the world’s expectation, and his actions had been contrary to her orders, ‘though carried in such sort as we were sure to have no time to countermand them.’ ‘Before your departure,’ she wrote, ‘no man’s counsel was held sound which persuaded not presently the main prosecution in Ulster; all was nothing without that, and nothing was too much for that.’ An army and a summer had been wasted,[Pg 343] and nothing had been done. The only way of accounting for the way in which the available troops had dwindled from 19,000 to less than 4,000 was by supposing that he had dispersed them in unnecessary garrisons, ‘especially since, by your continual report of the state of every province, you describe them all to be in worse condition than ever they were before you put foot in that kingdom.’ He had condemned all his predecessors, he had had everything he asked for, and he had done worse than anyone. Two days after the despatch of this letter Elizabeth received the account of the truce with Tyrone, which she promptly characterised as the ‘quick end made of a slow proceeding.’ She had never doubted that Tyrone would be ready to parley ‘specially with our supreme general of the kingdom, having often done it with those of subaltern authority; always seeking these cessations with like words, like protestations.’ She blamed Essex severely for his private interview—not, she was careful to say, that she suspected treason; ‘yet both for comeliness, example, and your own discharge, we marvel you would carry it no better.’ He had neglected her orders and sheltered himself systematically behind a council which had already wrapped Ireland in calamities. If she had intended to leave all to them, it was ‘very superfluous to have sent over such a personage as yourself.’ His despatches were as meagre as his actions, and he had told her nothing of what passed between him and Tyrone, nor of his instructions to the commissioners, so that ‘we cannot tell, but by divination, what to think may be the issue of this proceeding... to trust this traitor upon oath is to trust a devil upon his religion. To trust him upon pledges is a mere illusory... unless he yield to have garrisons planted in his own country to master him, and to come over to us personally here.’ The letter concluded with a positive order not to ratify the truce, nor to grant a pardon without further authority from herself, ‘after he had particularly advised by writing.’ One week after the date of the letter Essex left Ireland, in spite of the most stringent orders not to do so without a special warrant.[327]

[Pg 344]

The O’Neill in his hold.

Some account of Tyrone, as he appeared among his own people near Dunkalk, has been fortunately preserved in a letter from Sir John Harrington, who was at once a keen observer and a lively writer, and who had already seen him at Ormonde’s house in London. Tyrone apologised for not remembering him personally, and said that the troubles had made him almost forget his friends. While the Earl was in private conversation with Sir William Warren, Harrington amused himself by ‘posing his two sons in their learning, and their tutors, which were one Friar Nangle, a Franciscan, and a younger scholar, whose name I know not; and finding the two children of good towardly spirit, their age between thirteen and fifteen, in English clothes like a nobleman’s sons; with velvet jerkins and gold lace; of a good cheerful aspect, freckle-faced, not tall of stature, but strong and well-set; both of them speaking the English tongue; I gave them (not without the advice of Sir William Warren) my English translation of Ariosto, which I got at Dublin; which their teachers took very thankfully, and soon after shewed it to the Earl, who called to see it openly, and would needs hear some part of it read. I turned (as it had been by chance) to the beginning of the forty-fifth canto, and some other passages of the book, which he seemed to like so well that he solemnly swore his boys should read all the book over to him.’ Harrington was not insensible to flattery of this sort, for he has recorded the reception of his work at Galway and its soothing effect upon ‘a great lady, a young lady, and a fair lady’ who had been jilted by Sir Calisthenes Brooke; but it did not prevent him from afterwards calling Tyrone a damnable rebel. It was O’Neill’s cue to speak fairly, and he took occasion to say that he had seen his visitor’s cousin, Sir Henry, in the field, and that he must have been wrongly accused of misconduct in the fight near Wicklow. Tyrone deplored his ‘own hard life,’ comparing himself to wolves, that ‘fill their[Pg 345] bellies sometimes, and fast as long for it;’ but he was merry at dinner, and seemed rather pleased when Harrington worsted one of his priests in an argument. ‘There were fern tables and fern forms, spread under the stately canopy of heaven. His guard for the most part were beardless boys without shirts, who, in the frost, wade as familiarly through rivers as water-spaniels. With what charms such a master makes them love him I know not; but if he bid come, they come; if go, they do go; if he say do this, they do it.’ He made peaceable professions, and spoke much about freedom of conscience; but Harrington perceived that his only object was to temporise, and ‘one pretty thing I noted, that the paper being drawn for him to sign, and his signing it with O’Neill, Sir William (though with very great difficulty) made him to new write it and subscribe Hugh Tyrone.’[328]

Essex deserts his post (September).
His reception at Court.

The only possible excuse for Essex’s leaving Ireland against orders was the Queen’s last direction to ‘advise by writing’ the progress of his negotiations with Tyrone. He had given a promise—a foolish and rash promise—that he would ‘only verbally deliver’ the conditions demanded by the arch-rebel. A letter to Sir John Norris had been sent into Spain, and Tyrone refused to open his heart if writing was to be used. Essex could, however, refer to the instructions given by him to Warren, and in any case he might have waited until her Majesty had expressed her opinion as to his promise of secrecy. After all, the most probable supposition is that he was sick of Ireland, that he felt his own failure, and that he hoped to reassert over the Queen that power which absence had so evidently weakened. He swore in Archbishop Loftus and Sir George Carey as Lords Justices,[Pg 346] Ormonde remaining in command of the army under his old commission, and charged them all to keep the cessation precisely, but to stand on their guard and to have all garrisons fully victualled for six months. He sailed the same day, and travelled post, with the evident intention of himself announcing his departure from Ireland. Having embarked on the 24th, he reached London very early on the 28th, hurried to the ferry between Westminster and Lambeth, and appropriated the horses which he found waiting there. Lord Grey de Wilton, who had not forgiven his arrest, was in front, and it was proposed by Sir Thomas Gerrard that he should let the Earl pass him. ‘Doth he desire it?’ said Lord Grey. ‘No,’ was the answer, ‘nor will he, I think, ask anything at your hands.’ ‘Then,’ said his lordship, ‘I have business at Court.’ He hurried on to Nonsuch, and went straight to Cecil.[329] Essex arrived only a quarter of an hour later, and although ‘so full of dirt and mire that his very face was full of it,’ made his way at once to the Queen’s bedchamber. It was ten o’clock, and Elizabeth was an early riser, but on this occasion she was ‘newly up, the hair about her face.’ He fell on his knees and kissed her hands, and the goodness of his reception was inferred from his own words that, ‘though he had suffered much trouble and storm abroad, he found a sweet calm at home.’ He dressed, and at eleven had another audience, which lasted an hour. Still all went well. The Queen was gracious, and the courtiers as yet saw no reason to stand aloof; but Cecil and his friends were thought to be rather cold. Elizabeth was evidently glad to see her favourite, and for a moment forgot his real position. The first meeting of the Privy Council dispelled the illusion, and on the 1st of October he was committed to the custody of Lord-Keeper Egerton.[330]

Negotiations with Tyrone (October and November).

It was very uncertain as to what would be the consequences of Essex’s escapade, and those who were left in charge could only temporise as best they might. In about two[Pg 347] months Sir William Warren had three separate parleys with Tyrone, and in each case it was the English diplomatist that urged a continuance of the cessation of arms. Tyrone, who had his immediate followers extraordinarily well in hand, seems to have kept the truce, and he had reasons to complain of injuries done him by the English party. In the paralysis of government outrage upon the borders could scarcely be avoided, and Tyrone’s allies were less steady than himself. ‘In all the speeches,’ Warren wrote, ‘passed between him and me, he seemed to stand chiefly upon a general liberty of religion throughout the kingdom. I wished him to demand some other thing reasonable to be had from her Majesty, for I told him that I thought her Majesty would no more yield to that demand than she would give her crown from her head.’ Warren laughed at a letter addressed to Lord O’Neill Chief Lieutenant of Ireland. ‘I asked him,’ he says, ‘to whom the devil he could be Lieutenant. He answered me, Why should I not be a Lieutenant as well as the Earl of Ormonde.’ The reasoning is not very clear, and it seems at least probable that many regarded him as the Pope’s viceroy. In making James Fitzthomas an earl he had greatly exceeded even the most ample viceregal powers. From the meeting with Essex to the date at which he resolved to begin fighting again, his official letters are signed Hugh Tyrone, but on November 8 he gave Warren fourteen days’ notice to conclude the truce, on the ground of injuries done him by Thomond and Clanricarde. That letter and those succeeding it, with one significant exception, he signs as O’Neill. In repeating the notice to Ormonde he says, ‘I wish you command your secretary to be more discreet and to use the word Traitor as seldom as he may. By chiding there is little gotten at my hands, and they that are joined with me fight for the Catholic religion, and liberties of our country, the which I protest before God is my whole intention.’ In all these negotiations Tyrone professes to rely entirely upon Essex to see justice done, and declares war ‘first of all for having seven score of my men killed by the Earl of Ormonde in time of cessation, besides divers others of the Geraldines, who were[Pg 348] slain by the Earl of Kildare. Another cause is because I made my agreement only with your lordship, in whom I had my only confidence, who, as I am given to understand, is now restrained from your liberty, for what cause I know not.’ And this letter, being intended for English consumption, is signed Hugh Tyrone. Immediately after writing it he again took the field.[331]

Amount of blame imputable to Essex.

‘The conditions demanded by Tyrone,’ says Essex himself, ‘I was fain to give my word that I would only verbally deliver.’ The consequence was that there is not and cannot be any absolutely authentic statement of those conditions. There is, however, a paper printed in a collection of repute, and immediately after one of Cecil’s letters, which professes to be a statement of ‘Tyrone’s Propositions, 1599.’ The Queen herself says that Essex, on his return, acquainted her with Tyrone’s offers, but in so confused a manner as could only be explained by supposing that ‘the short time of their conference made him not fully conceive the particular meaning of Tyrone in divers of those articles.’ What probably happened was that Tyrone talked big, and that when Essex came to think over it afterwards, he could not clearly distinguish between extreme claims which had been mentioned, and serious proposals which had been made. But the 16th article in ‘Tyrone’s Propositions’ is clearly not invented by the writer, who was probably hostile to Essex. It demands ‘that O’Neill, O’Donnell, Desmond, and their partakers, shall have such lands as their ancestors enjoyed 200 years ago.’ Whether Tyrone ever demanded any such thing is doubtful, but it is certain that this, or something very like it, was what Essex told the Queen. ‘Tyrone’s offers,’ she says, ‘are both full of scandal to our realm, and future peril in the State. What would become of all Munster, Leix, and Offaly, if all the ancient exiled rebels[Pg 349] be restored to all that our laws and hereditary succession have bestowed upon us?’ And again, ‘we will not assent in other provinces [than Ulster] to the restitution of all traitors to their livings, or the displantation of our subjects that have spent their lives in the just defences of their possessions which they have taken and held from us or our ancestors.’ It is quite evident then that Essex actually laid before Elizabeth a proposal which involved the reversal of every attainder and the expropriation of all settlers upon forfeited lands. After this it hardly seems worth discussing matters of commerce, or proposals that Englishmen should be debarred from all preferment in Church and State in Ireland, while all statutes prejudicing the preferment of Irishmen in England should be repealed.’[332]

What Tyrone meant by ‘liberty of conscience.’

Liberty of conscience was what Tyrone continually asked for, but not what he or his friends were prepared to grant. He undertook generally to ‘plant the Catholic faith throughout Ireland,’ and when did Rome bear a rival near her throne? In a letter to the King of Spain he acknowledged his object to be the ‘extirpation of heresy,’ and recalcitrant chiefs were reminded that present ruin and eternal damnation would be their lot if they did not help to ‘erect the Catholic religion.’ Jesuits boasted that his victories had already made it impossible for Protestants to live in certain districts. Tyrone claimed personal inviolability for priests, and treated the imprisonment of one as a breach of the cessation. In the paper already discussed he is said to have demanded that the Catholic religion should be openly preached, the churches governed by the Pope, cathedrals restored, Irish priests re[Pg 350]leased from prison and left free to come and go over sea, and that no Englishmen should be churchmen in Ireland. The article about the release of clerical prisoners is just such a coincidence as Paley would have urged in proof that ‘Tyrone’s Propositions’ form a genuine document. But here again it is probable that this was only laid before the Queen as Tyrone’s extreme claim, and that Essex gave her some reason to suppose that he would be satisfied with less. ‘For any other personal coming of himself,’ she wrote, ‘or constraint in religion, we can be content, for the first, that he may know he shall not be peremptorily concluded, and in the second that we leave to God, who knows best how to work his will in these things, by means more fit than violence, which doth rather obdurate than reform. And, therefore, as in that case he need not to dread us, so we intend not to bind ourselves further for his security than by our former course we have witnessed; who have not used rigour in that point, even when we might with more probability have forced others.’[333]


[300] Parallel between Essex and Buckingham in Reliquiæ Wottonianæ.

[301] Reliquiæ Wottonianæ; Camden; Essex to the Queen in Devereux’s Earls of Essex, i. 493. The letter quoted in the text is the best proof that Camden’s story is substantially true. See also Spedding’s Life of Bacon, ii. 91, 103. For Spanish popular notions on Philip III. see Carew, Aug. 23, 1602. Beaumont, the French ambassador in 1602, says the Queen told him, in a broken voice, that she had warned Essex long since ‘qu’il se contestast de prendre plaisir de lui déplaire à toutes occasions, et de mepriser sa personne insolemment comme il faisait, et qu’il se gardast bien de toucher à son sceptre.’—Von Raumer, Letter 60.

[302] Spedding, ii. 124-126; Essex to John Harrington in Park’s edition of Nugæ Antiquæ, i. 246.

[303] Bacon’s advice to Essex immediately before his going to Ireland, Spedding, ii. 129; Essex to Southampton, Jan. 1, 1599, printed by Abbott; Bacon’s Apology, first printed in 1604.

[304] The letter of advice is in Spedding, ii. 129; Apology concerning the Earl of Essex; Essex to Southampton in Abbott’s Bacon and Essex, chap. ix. Jan. 1, 1599. Essex wrote to the Queen, just before starting, as follows: ‘From a mind delighting in sorrow, from spirits wasted with passion, from a heart torn with care, grief, and travail, from a man that hateth himself and all things also that keepeth him alive, what service can your Majesty expect? since my service past deserves no more than banishment and proscription into the cursedst of all other countries.’ The letter ends with some verses in praise of a contemplative life, and Essex signs himself ‘your Majesty’s exiled servant.’—MS. Harl. 35, p. 338.

[305] The progress of the negotiations may be traced in Chamberlain’s Letters (Camden Society). Essex to Southampton, Jan. 1, 1599; and Charles Blount (afterwards Lord Mountjoy) to Essex, Jan. 3, both in Abbott, chap. ix.

‘Full little knowest thou, that has not tried,
What hell it is in suing long to bide;
To lose good days that might be better spent
To waste long nights in pensive discontent;
To speed to-day, to be put back to-morrow, &c.’—Spenser.

[306] Devereux, ii. 16-24; Four Masters; Prayer for the good success of Her Majesty’s forces in Ireland (black letter, London, 1599).

Were now the general of our gracious empress
(As in good time he may), from Ireland coming,
Bringing rebellion broached on his sword,
How many would the peaceful city quit,
To welcome him?—Henry V. Act 5.

[307] Chamberlain’s Letters, 1599. Robert Markham to John Harrington in Nugæ Antiquæ, i. 239; Fenton to Cecil, May 7; Fynes Moryson’s Itinerary, part i. book i. ch. i. At Hatfield there are a great many letters asking Essex to employ the writers or their friends in Ireland. Most of these anticipate triumph. William Harborn on Feb. 3 asks for nothing, but presents the Earl with an Italian history of the world in four volumes, ‘to attend your honour, if they be permitted, in this your pretended Irish enterprise, at times vacant to recreate your most heroical mind.’ The Queen’s instructions speak of a ‘royal army, paid, furnished, and provided in other sorts than any king of this land hath done before.’ Its nominal strength was raised to 20,000, but they were never really under arms at once.

[308] The Commission, dated March 12, is in Morrin’s Patent Rolls, ii. 520. The instructions, dated March 27, are fully abstracted by Devereux, and in Carew.

[309] Chichester to Cecil, March 17, 1599, MS. Hatfield. Account of Sir Arthur Chichester by Sir Faithful Fortescue in Lord Clermont’s privately printed Life of Sir John Fortescue, &c.

[310] Report on state of Ireland April 1599, in Carew, and further particulars in Dymmok’s Treatise of Ireland (ed. Butler, Irish Arch. Society, 1843). Dymmok’s account of the Leinster and Munster journey is, with slight omissions, word for word (but better spelt) Harrington’s journal from May 10 to July 3, after which it is continued from other sources. (Nugæ Antiquæ, i. 268-292.) There is an independent journal in Carew from May 21 to July 1. The opinion of the Irish Council is printed by Devereux, i. 24. Essex to the Privy Council, April 29. Sir H. Wotton to Ed. Reynolds, April 19, MS. Hatfield, where it is noted that Sir H. Wallop died within an hour of the Lord Lieutenant’s arrival.

[311] Nugæ Antiquæ, i. 269-275; Four Masters; O’Sullivan Bere, tom. iii. lib. v. cap. 9. O’Donovan cannot exactly identify the ‘transitus plumarum,’ and the name is forgotten in the district. Harrington places it between Croshy Duff hill, which is two and a half miles from Maryborough on the Timahoe road, and Cashel, which is four miles from Maryborough on the Ballyroan road. Captain Lee, in Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica, i. 114, suggests that Tyrone would willingly settle all his differences with Bagenal (whom he very wrongly accuses of cowardice) by a duel. Tyrone was the last man in the world to do such an act of folly, but Lee exposes his own character.

[312] The Lord President, Ormonde, and other councillors ‘hath persuaded me for a few days to look into his government.’—Essex to the Privy Council, May 21, 1599, MS. Hatfield. The few days were a full month. Nugæ Antiquæ, i. 275-278; Journal of occurrents in Carew, under June 22. The battery was planted on May 28, and all was over by the 31st. ‘The castle of Cahir, very considerable, built upon a rock, and seated in an island in the midst of the Suir, was lately rendered to me. It cost the Earl of Essex, as I am informed, about eight weeks’ siege with his army and artillery. It is now yours without the loss of one man.’—Cromwell to Bradshaw, March 5, 1649. Thus history is falsified by flattery and local vanity. There is a picture-plan of the siege in Pacata Hibernia.

[313] Journal of occurrents in Carew, under June 22; Nugæ Antiquæ, i. 278-280. The Journal, the Four Masters, and O’Sullivan Bere, tom. iii. lib. v. cap. 6, all agree that Norris died of a wound in the head. ‘Kilthilia’ may be Kilteely near Hospital, whither the Journal says the wounded man was first carried. He died in his own house at Mallow.

[314] Nugæ Antiquæ and Journal ut sup. Essex left Askeaton on the 8th, and arrived at Waterford on June 21. The Queen to Lord and Lady Norris, Sept. 6, in S.P. Domestic, and Rowland Whyte to Sir R. Sidney, Sept. 8, in Sidney Papers.

[315] The contemporary accounts are collected in National MSS. of Ireland, part iv. i. app. xiv. Atherton’s is the most minute. There is also a field-sketch made by Captain Montague. The Irish were not numerically stronger than Harrington’s force. Loftus, who died at Wicklow for want of a skilful surgeon, was the archbishop’s son.

[316] Journal in Carew, under July 1; Nugæ Antiquæ, i. 254, 259, and 286-292; Dymmok’s Treatise. Essex left Waterford June 22, and reached Dublin July 2.

[317] Essex to the Privy Council, July 11; Devereux, ii. 50-52; Fynes Moryson, part ii. lib. i. cap. i.; Nugæ Antiquæ, i. 292; Reliquiæ Wottonianæ.

[318] Privy Council to Essex, June 10; Essex to the Privy Council, July 11; the Queen to Essex, July 19.

[319] Essex to the Privy Council, May 21, MS. Hatfield; Cecil to Sir H. Neville, May 23, in Winwood’s Memorials; Chamberlain’s Letters, June 10; Essex to the Queen, June 25, in Moryson; the Queen to Essex, July 19.

[320] Dymmok’s Treatise, p. 43; Nugæ Antiquæ, i. 255; the Queen to Essex, July 19 and Aug. 10. Harrington’s comrade was Gerald, fourteenth Earl of Kildare. The ‘sergeant-major’ was either Captain Richard Cuny or Captain George Flower.

[321] The Queen to the Lord Lieutenant and Council, Aug. 10 in Carew; Chamberlain’s Letters, Aug. 23.

[322] Dymmok’s Treatise, p. 44; Nugæ Antiquæ, i. 255-257 and 264-268; Four Masters. Harrington was present, and Dymmok’s account is from those who were. O’Sullivan Bere says the English lost 1,400 men, but Harrington says Clifford’s whole force hardly amounted to that number. O’Donnell, though not far off, took no actual part in the fight. H. Cuffe to E. Reynolds, Aug. 11, MS. Hatfield, written when the bad news was quite fresh.

[323] Four Masters; MacDermot’s letter is in Dymmok; Essex’s instructions for Dillon, Savage, and Dunkellin in Carew, Aug. 10. Dymmok gives Aug. 15 as the date of Clifford’s death, but it must have been a week earlier.

[324] Essex to the Queen, soon after Aug. 15, in Devereux, ii. 56, and two other letters at p. 67. The officers’ declaration is at p. 55, where the names of the signatories are given. They fairly justify the Queen’s stricture in her letter of Sept. 14.

[325] Dymmok’s Treatise; Journal in Carew, No. 315. The two accounts substantially agree. It was the hereditary privilege of O’Hagan to inaugurate O’Neill.

[326] Journal in Carew and Dymmok ut sup. Moryson and Camden closely agree. The chronology is as follows: Essex leaves Dublin Aug. 28; musters at Castle Kieran, Aug. 31; between Robinstown and Newcastle, Sept. 2; Ardee, Sept. 3; Mills of Louth, Sept. 4; O’Hagan’s first overtures, Sept. 5; the meeting at Bellaclinthe, Sept. 7; cessation concluded, Sept. 8; Essex goes to Drogheda, Sept. 9. See also Shirley’s Monaghan, p. 104. There is a story told somewhere that Tyrone spoke much of religion, and that Essex answered, ‘Go to, thou carest as much for religion as my horse.’ The original articles of cessation, dated Sept. 8 and signed Hugh Tyrone, are at Hatfield.

[327] Essex to the Queen, Aug. 30, from Ardbraccan; the Queen to Essex. Sept. 14 and 17—all printed by Devereux. On March 27, Essex had licence at his own request ‘to return to her Majesty’s presence at such times as he shall find cause,’ but this was revoked by her letter of July 30. Sir H. Wotton to E. Reynolds, April 19, MS. Hatfield.

[328] Harrington to Justice Carey in Nugæ Antiquæ, i. 247. Park gives April as the date of this letter, but this is disproved by internal evidence, and it certainly belongs to October. See also ib. pp. 260 and 340. Warren’s own account of his ‘second journey to the Earl of Tyrone,’ is dated Oct. 20. The first lines of the 45th canto of Harrington’s translation of Orlando are:—

Look how much higher Fortune doth erect
The climbing wight on her unstable wheel,
So much the higher may a man expect
To see his head where late he saw his heel, &c.

[329] Sir Christopher St. Lawrence, according to Camden, offered his services to kill both the peer and the secretary.

[330] Letters from Rowland Whyte to Sir Robert Sidney in Sidney Papers, ii. 117, 127, from Sept. 19 to Oct. 2; Essex’s Relation, written by him during his imprisonment.

[331] The letter to Essex is of Nov. 22, and with seventeen others belonging to the last three months of 1599, is printed by Mr. Gilbert in App. 16 to National Manuscripts, Ireland, part iv. 1. In a letter of Nov. 6, to the Lords Justices, Lord Lieutenant (Ormonde), and Council, the Queen approves of the slaughter by Ormonde ‘in revenge of that that brake the cessation in Wexford... do not irritate nor oppress any such as have submitted ... in respect of any private unkindness of your own.’

[332] ‘Tyrone’s Propositions, 1599’ are in Winwood’s Memorials, i. 118, immediately after Cecil’s letter of Oct. 8 to Neville, and are reprinted by Spedding and Abbott. The letter does not mention any enclosure. In Bacon and Essex, pp. 134-148, Dr. Abbott endeavours, not very successfully, I think, to show that the document is entirely unworthy of credit. It is, however, not called ‘Essex’s propositions,’ but ‘Tyrone’s,’ and I have shown that the most outrageous part of it was regarded by the Queen as a serious proposal. Essex should have broken off the conference at the mere mention of such a thing. Sidney would have done so, or Norris, or Mountjoy. The Queen’s letters to Fenton and to the Lords Justices, &c., are of Nov. 5 and 6.

[333] The Queen to the Lords Justices, &c. Nov. 6; Tyrone to Warren, Dec. 25; to the King of Spain, Dec. 31; to Lord Barry and others, Feb. 1600, in Carew. On Feb. 13, 1600, the Vicar Apostolic Hogan told Lord Barry he had ‘received an excommunication from the Pope against all those that doth not join in this Catholic action.’ James Archer, S.J., in a letter of Aug. 10, 1598, printed in Hibernia Ignatiana, p. 39, informs Aquaviva of ‘frequentes Catholicorum victorias, unde fit ut hæretici ex multis locis migrare cogantur.’ For Henry Fitzimon, S.J., the priest of whose imprisonment Tyrone complained, see his Life by Rev. E. Hogan, S.J., p. 209. ‘I never went to Tyrone,’ Warren wrote to Cecil, on Dec. 24, 1599, ‘but I was forced to bribe his Friars and Jesuits.’

[Pg 351]



The government is entrusted to Mountjoy.

In October 1599 the government of Ireland was offered to Mountjoy, who refused it. He may have thought that Essex would have to go back, or he may have been unwilling to leave Lady Rich. But in the following month he was nevertheless ordered to be ready within twenty days. It became evident that Essex would not be employed again; he made Mountjoy and Southampton guardians of his interests, and for his sake they both went perilously near to treason. Mountjoy undertook the thankless office with a heavy heart. He told the Queen that everyone of his predecessors had without exception been blamed, and that there was no one in Ireland whom he could trust. Very unjustly, he included even Ormonde in this sweeping censure. It was Raleigh who had insisted that he should be appointed, and the Queen listened chiefly to him about Irish affairs. ‘This employment of me is by a private man that never knew what it was to divide public and honourable ends from his own, propounded and laboured to you (without any respect to your public service) the more eagerly, by any means to rise to his long expected fortune. Wherein, by reason of the experience I have heard your Majesty holds him to have in that country, he is like to become my judge, and is already so proud of this plot that he cannot keep himself from bragging of it.’[334]

Raleigh’s advice.

The usual delays took place, and the twenty days were prolonged to eleven weeks. Raleigh’s advice, like that of everyone who really understood the problem, was for a system of garrisons. A Lord President in Munster with a consider[Pg 352]able force, a local governor in Connaught with smaller means, a strong post at Lough Foyle, and the remaining troops under the Lord Deputy’s immediate command—these were the means by which it was hoped to reduce Ireland. A large army under Essex had failed, and his successor was expected to do everything with 12,000 foot and 1,200 horse, though everyone but the Queen thought this force too small. Lord Grey de Wilton, who was Essex’s known enemy, desired the command at Lough Foyle; but Mountjoy resented this idea as an insult, and the choice fell upon Sir Henry Docwra, who had served under Bingham in Connaught and under Essex at Cadiz. Grey consoled himself by sending a challenge to Southampton, who said he was ready to fight when time and place served, but that one so out of favour as himself could hope for no mercy if he broke the law in England. Mountjoy took leave of the Queen on the 24th of January, but was not made a Privy Councillor, that honour being reserved till his return. Those who were to accompany him also kissed hands, and Elizabeth read a little lecture to each upon his duties. A fortnight later the Lord Deputy left London with an escort of 100 horse, and wrote from Daventry to Cecil begging that he might not be kept too closely to the 13,000 men. Southampton was not allowed to go with him.[335]

Tyrone’s Holy War in Munster.

Whether Tyrone cared much or little for religion, it became an object with him to appear publicly as the champion of Rome, and as such he sought help from Spain and Austria. He then marched into Munster, and, acting in concert with Desmond and the ecclesiastics there, called upon all to take part in the holy war. He wasted a considerable part of Westmeath, and carefully ravaged Ely O’Carroll. ‘All its movable possessions,’ say the Four Masters, ‘were carried away, and nothing left but ashes instead of corn, and embers in place of mansions. Great numbers of men, women, sons, and daughters were left in a dying state.’ The reason or pretext for this severity was that O’Carroll had hired certain warriors of the Macmahons, and had killed instead of paying[Pg 353] them when the settling day came round. At Holy Cross Abbey the relic, which had been hitherto preserved in spite of the dissolution, was brought out to do him honour. Ormonde and Delvin watched his course, but did not venture to attack him. The annalists oddly remark that on his progress by Cashel to the neighbourhood of Bandon he only injured those who were opposed to him. Among these was David Lord Barry, who had remained firmly loyal since his pardon in Lord Grey’s time. Tyrone reviled him for deserting the cause of the Church, and as the principal means of preventing the southern nobility from joining him in rebellion. ‘Her Highness,’ replied Barry, ‘hath never restrained me for matters of religion,’ and he demanded the restoration of some of his followers who had been captured, and of 4,000 kine and 3,000 horses. He defied Tyrone, and promised to have his revenge some day, with her Majesty’s assistance. He had hoped to save the island on which Queenstown now stands, but the castle commanding the bridge over the narrow strait was of no avail to protect his property. Tyrone landed his parties in boats, and not a single house was left unburned.[336]

Arrival of Mountjoy and Carew (February).

In the meantime Mountjoy had been appointed Deputy, and Carew President of Munster. They landed together at Howth on February 26, and found things in as bad a state as possible, almost the whole island being virtually under the sway of the victorious rebel. The Queen realised that the country could not be bridled without fixed garrisons, but she cautioned Mountjoy against frittering away his strength by multiplying small posts. It had long been recognised that fortifications at Lough Foyle would do more than anything to cripple the O’Neills, and 4,000 foot and 200 horse were assigned for this service to Docwra; while 3,000 foot and 250 horse were allotted, by official orders from England, to the presidency of Munster. The force left under Mountjoy’s immediate control did not, therefore, exceed 5,000 men, and he was thus prevented from repeating Essex’s mistake, that[Pg 354] of ‘making progresses’ at a great expense without achieving any permanent results.[337]

Tyrone plays the king in Munster.

Carew was necessarily delayed in Dublin for about six weeks, and in the meantime Tyrone went where he pleased in Munster. His principal camp was at Inniscarra on the Lee, and thither came friendly messages or hostages from nearly all the neighbouring magnates, whether of English or Irish race. Among his trustiest lieutenants was his son-in-law, Hugh Maguire, who, on or about the last day of February, made a raid in the immediate neighbourhood of Cork. Sir Warham St. Leger and Sir Henry Power, the acting commissioners for Munster, went out for a ride, in no expectation of an attack so near the town. Their men were marching at ease and in loose order when they suddenly came in contact with Maguire’s party. St. Leger fired his pistol at the chief with fatal effect, but the latter had strength enough to retaliate with his half-pike; and so the two leaders fell by each other’s hands, and with few or no other casualties on either side. To Tyrone the loss was great, and probably decided him to leave the province before Carew could appear. Marching through the eastern part of Cork, and leaving Cashel on his right hand, he passed through Westmeath and reached his own country without striking a blow or ever seeing an enemy. Ormonde and Thomond came out from Limerick with a considerable force, but no battle took place, though Carew has recorded his opinion that the loyal Earls were very anxious to fight.[338]

Tyrone’s march through Ireland.

Tyrone left about 1,800 men behind him in Munster, chiefly under the command of Richard Tyrrell, and with 600, which were probably his best, he travelled so fast as to elude Mountjoy, who had made preparations for intercepting him in Westmeath. The Ulster men marched twenty-seven miles in one day, and reached Tyrone in less than a quarter of the[Pg 355] time that it had taken them to perform the outward journey. The Queen and her viceroy did not escape ‘the great dishonour of this traitor passing home to his den unfought with.’ Ormonde and Thomond, who had been keeping Easter together at Kilkenny, then repaired to Dublin; and Mountjoy matured his plan for the re-conquest of Ireland in detail. Carew was ready before Docwra, and on April 7 he set out for his province, the two Earls having preceded him to Kilkenny.[339]

Ormonde is taken prisoner by the O’Mores (April).
The Jesuit Archer.

Carew reached Kilkenny on the third day, and his company of 100 horse were billeted in the neighbourhood by Ormonde’s directions. Each day the Earl proposed that the President should accompany him to a parley with Owen MacRory at a point between Ballyragget and Ballinakill in the Queen’s County. So little did he dream of danger on the border of his own county, that he refused Carew’s proffered escort, and set out with about forty mounted men, of whom more than one half were ‘lawyers, merchants, and others, upon hackneys,’ and with no weapons but the swords ordinarily worn. His company of 200 foot were left two miles short of the place of meeting. O’More brought a picked troop of spearmen with him, leaving in the rear 500 foot and twenty horse, ‘the best furnished for war and the best apparelled that we have seen in this kingdom,’ 300 of them being Ulster mercenaries, left by Tyrone on his return to the North. The two parties met upon a heath sloping down towards a narrow defile, and with a bushy wood on each side, ‘the choice of which ground,’ says Carew, ‘we much misliked.’ An hour’s conversation then ensued between Ormonde and O’More about such questions as would naturally arise between warlike neighbours. Carew, who noticed that the Irish kept edging further forward in the covert on each side, was for departing before mischief could happen; but Ormonde, who was quite unsuspicious, desired first to speak with Archer, who as a Kilkenny man might be open to the arguments of his natural chief. The Jesuit came forward, and after some talk the Earl[Pg 356] called him a traitor, and upbraided him with seducing the Queen’s subjects into rebellion. Archer replied that the Pope was the Sovereign of Ireland, and that he had excommunicated Elizabeth. Ormonde then spoke of the Pope in contemptuous terms, whereupon Archer threatened him with his stick. At this signal, whether premeditated or not, the two parties became suddenly intermingled, and Melaghlin O’More pulled the Earl off his pony. Others, wrote Carew, and Thomond, ‘tried to seize us too. We had more hanging upon us than is credibly to be believed; but our horses were strong and by that means did break through them, tumbling down on all sides those that were before and behind us; and, thanks be to God, we escaped the pass of their pikes, which they freely bestowed and the flinging of their skeynes.... Owen MacRory laid hands on me the President, and, next unto God, I must thank my Lord of Thomond for my escape, who thrust his horse upon him. And at my back a rebel, newly protected at my suit, called Brian MacDonogh Kavanagh, being a-foot, did me good service. For the rest I must thank my horse, whose strength bore down all about him.’ Thomond received the stab of a pike in his back, but the wound did not prove dangerous.[340]

Mountjoy and Ormonde.
Ormonde a prisoner, (April to June).
His release (June).

Mountjoy distrusted Ormonde, more perhaps from jealousy than because there was any real pretext for doing so. ‘Taking notice,’ the Queen told her Deputy, ‘of our cousin of Ormonde’s good services, and in respect that he hath been much toiled now in his latter years, we have left unto him the choice whether he will retain the place of Lieutenant under you or not. We would have himself and all the world know that we make extraordinary estimation of him.’ He retained his post with an allowance of three pounds a day, and his almost independent position galled Mountjoy, as it had galled other Deputies[Pg 357] before his time. Ormonde had trusted to his own vast influence, and he would certainly have been warned had the intention of seizing him been known generally among O’More’s followers. If there was any premeditated design, it was probably divulged only to a few. At first he was confined at Gortnaclea Castle, near Abbeyleix, where he was allowed to have his own cook and other comforts, but not to see anyone, except in Owen MacRory’s presence. Archer plied him hard with religious argument, and some believed that he conformed to Rome; but this is at least extremely doubtful. Tyrone was anxious to get him into his power, but O’More had no idea of giving up such a hostage, and it is probable that the Leinster men would, in any case, have refused to let him be carried out of their province. A rescue was feared, and after a month the Earl was removed from Gortnaclea, and carried from cabin to cabin in the woods. From the intolerable hardship of this life he was relieved by Sir Terence O’Dempsey, who allowed his castle of Ballybrittas, near Portarlington, to be used as a prison. It was supposed that the Ulster mercenaries, or Bonaghts, wished to carry off the Earl to Tyrone by force, and the transfer was made by the O’Mores without their knowledge. Besides this, Dermot MacGrath, papal bishop of Cork, who is called legate by the English, and who was, perhaps, vicar-apostolic, was of opinion that the capture had been treacherous, and was thus opposed to Archer. Fenton managed to get access, for his spies, to the Earl, among whom a ‘gentlewoman’ named Honora is particularly mentioned. Finding, perhaps, that his prisoner was not likely to be as useful as he first supposed, and fearing that he might lose all advantage by death, O’More gradually relaxed his demands. The first terms offered were that all garrisons should be removed out of both Leix and Offaly; that the former county should be given up to Owen MacRory; that all his nominees should have protection for six weeks; and that during that time there should be no invasion of Ulster. Afterwards there was an attempt to make Ormonde sign a paper, which would have involved him in the guilt of O’More’s rebellion, but he eluded these snares, and was released after two months’ detention.[Pg 358] ‘It may please your sacred Majesty to be advertised,’ he wrote to the Queen, ‘that it pleased God of his goodness to deliver me, though weak and sick, from the most malicious, arrogant, and vile traitor of the world, Owen MacRory, forced to put into his hands certain hostages for payment of 3,000l. if at any time hereafter I shall seek revenge against him or his, which manner of agreement, although it be very hard, could not be obtained before he saw me in that extremity and weakness, as I was like, very shortly, to have ended my life in his hands.’ He believed that he owed his liberty to the report that Leinster would be overrun with troops, to prevent which the Irishry of the province themselves offered hostages, and were ready to quarrel with O’More should he refuse them. They were twelve in number, one being Sir Terence O’Dempsey’s son, and Ormonde’s intention was to ransom them one by one. Sir Terence had married a Butler, and whatever became of the other hostages, a ransom appears to have been paid for this one.

Mountjoy was fain to confess that ‘the Earl doth continue with as great affection as ever to her Majesty, and with much more spleen against the rebel; but the tie upon him to the contrary are the pledges he hath put in, whom no doubt the traitors will retain upon their own conditions whatsoever his were. I do not think he will deliver his daughter, although I believe he hath promised to do it... I cannot but bear a kind of reverence to so ancient a servant of her Majesty, and a compassion to the miserable fortune he was in... it shall be hard, but I will put the Earl and the fathers of the pledges in blood against the rebels, and that will soon mar all contracts between them. I have many plots upon Owen MacRory to take him, and I think it is a thing that the Earl doth very much practise, and will go very near to perform.’[341]

Tyrone and Ormonde.

Lady Ormonde was in bad health at this time, and her[Pg 359] death in the following year was perhaps hastened by anxiety. She begged that her husband’s military allowance might still be paid, as absolutely necessary for her support. Mountjoy took proper measures for her protection, and even if he had not done so from kindness, the custody of her daughter was a matter of public importance. She was Ormonde’s only child, and there were sure to be many candidates for her wardship, and for her hand. Besides which, possible heirs male would be ready to advance their claims should anything happen to the Earl. Tyrone was supposed to desire the heiress for his son, and he took the trouble to deny the imputation, but this may not have been until he saw that O’More had no idea of surrendering his great prisoner. ‘Use him honourably,’ he wrote from Dungannon, ‘but keep him very sure until he be sent hither by the help of yourself and such as we have appointed for that purpose. Therefore be not tempted to enlarge him upon any proffer, for if you will desire ransom you shall have money and gold at my hands.’

It was not till more than a month later that he denied any wish to have the young ‘lady’ or ‘my lady mistress,’ as he calls Lady Elizabeth, ‘for by demanding her, men would say that I should have her for my son.’ It seems clear that his first object was to get Ormonde into his hands, and failing that he wished to have credit for liberality and kindness. ‘For any motion,’ said Ormonde contemptuously, ‘of marriage of my daughter to any of that base traitor Tyrone’s brood, upon my duty of allegiance to your highness, I never thought of any like matter, neither was it demanded of me.’[342]

Carew in Munster. Florence MacCarthy.
Barbarous warfare.

As soon as Mountjoy had provided for the safety of Kilkenny, Carew started for his own province, where St. Leger’s death had left Sir Henry Power in temporary charge of a[Pg 360] very troubled community. The rebels in the county of Waterford came in to the Lord President at once, and it was thought wiser not to ask questions. In Cork, Florence MacCarthy was trying to play the impossible part of a neutral, while Dermot O’Connor, at the head of a strong body of mercenaries, was really the most powerful person in the province. Essex had been authorised to give Florence a patent of inheritance to his father-in-law, with discretionary power so to limit it as might seem best for the public safety, but his sudden departure prevented this being done. St. Leger and Power wished the patent to issue, and thought the best way of restraining Donell’s violence would be to acknowledge Florence as MacCarthy More. To show his power, or to annoy a personal enemy, Florence soon afterwards ravaged Lord Barry’s barony of Ibane with ‘700 of the traitors’ bonies, otherwise called here among us cabbage-soldiers.’ Yet he continued constantly to protest his loyalty, while maintaining that he dared not declare openly for the Queen, lest Dermot should forsake him and secure the triumph of that ‘bastardly rascal Donell MacCarthy,’ whom Tyrone had acknowledged as MacCarthy More. O’Connor was not originally a person of much importance, but he had married Lady Margaret Fitzgerald, the late Earl of Desmond’s daughter, and, being a valiant man, found himself at the head of 1,400 Connaught free companions. Tyrone had given him the chief command in Munster, and the loose swordsmen flocked to his standard. He was, however, ‘a mere mercenary serving in Munster only for pay,’ and probably quite ready to sell himself to the highest bidder. Lady Margaret could speak English, and it was thought that she would do anything to procure her brother’s restoration to the earldom of Desmond. According to Florence’s account it was the fear of Dermot, and the necessity of doing something to make his own people believe in him, that induced him to appear in arms on the rebel side; and provocation was not wanting which might justify such action on his part. Sir Henry Power sent 1,000 men into Carbery, under Captain Flower, with general orders to spoil all who failed to give securities for their good[Pg 361] behaviour. It does not appear that any time or much notice was given, but Flower carried out the work of destruction thoroughly. From Kinsale to Glandore harbour, and from that to Dunmanus Bay, not a grain of corn was left unburned within ten miles of his line of march, 500 cows were drowned to save the trouble of driving them, and ‘the churls and poor people’ were treated as enemies and killed. On his return Flower was threatened by Florence with a superior force, but reached Kinsale without any serious encounter. Near Ballinhassig, between that town and Cork, the troops were near falling into an ambuscade, and even for a time put to flight. In the end they made good their retreat, but the victory was not much to boast of. When Carew heard of the affair, he regretted deeply what had been done. He could not reckon on much above 1,700 effective men in the field, too few to fight the Sugane Earl and the MacCarthies at once, and it was better to have Florence as a faithless, but on the whole peaceable neutral, than as an open enemy.[343]

Sir Henry Docwra occupies Derry (May).

While Carew was preparing to re-conquer the South by a mixture of force and fraud, a successful lodgment was made in the extreme north. On May 6, Sir Henry Docwra sailed from Carrickfergus with 4,000 foot and 200 horse. Boards and spars for building, master carpenters and master masons, and a great quantity of tools and victuals were provided. The mortality among Randolph’s men was not forgotten, and there were 100 flock-beds for a hospital. Three pieces of cannon were thought sufficient in view of an Irish siege. On the seventh day the ships grounded at the entrance of Lough Foyle, waited for the tide, advanced a little, and then grounded again. At last, on May 16, the work of unloading began at Culmore. One hundred men fired a volley from the shore, and horse were also visible; but they did not venture to dispute the landing, and in six days an entrenchment capable of[Pg 362] sheltering 200 men was thrown up about some ruined walls. O’Dogherty had dismantled his castle of Ellogh in the immediate neighbourhood; but it was easily repaired, and received a garrison of 150 men. Having thus made good his ground, Docwra marched with his main body to Derry on the 22nd, and this is how he describes its then condition:—‘A place in manner of an island comprehending within it forty acres of ground, whereon were the ruins of an old abbey, of a bishop’s house, of two churches, and at one of the ends of it an old castle, the river called Lough Foyle encompassing it all on one side, and a bog, most commonly wet and not easily passable except in two or three places, dividing it from the mainland... the ground being high, and therefore dry, and healthy to dwell upon. At that end where the old castle stood, being close to the water side, I presently resolved to raise a fort to keep our store of ammunition and victuals in, and in the other a little above, where the walls of an old cathedral church were yet standing, to erect another for our future safety and retreat unto upon all occasions.’ Wisely refusing to be tempted into pursuit of cunning enemies on their own ground, Docwra devoted his whole strength to the task of making the place habitable for the winter. Two ships were sent to coast along for timber and building materials, and a strong party was sent to cut birch in O’Cahan’s woods on the other side of the Foyle. ‘There was,’ he said, ‘not a stick brought home that was not well fought for.’ The ruins of old Derry and of Randolph’s settlement were utilised, stone and slate were found hard by, and ‘of cockle shells to make a lime we discovered infinite plenty of in a little island in the mouth of the harbour as we came in.’[344]

Docwra fortifies Derry (May to June).

To prevent Tyrone’s whole force from being directed against Docwra before he was in a position to stand a siege, Mountjoy himself moved northwards at the same time. He advanced as far as Newry, and Tyrone immediately faced him and turned his back to Lough Foyle. Southampton followed[Pg 363] the Deputy with a small force, and the Irish attempted to cut him off in the Moyry pass. There was some sharp fighting, but the Earl, who behaved valiantly, charging more than 200 horse with only six followers, made good his junction with the main army, and Mountjoy, having waited at Newry till he heard that Docwra was safe, turned back to Dublin. Tyrone and O’Donnell, with about 5,000 men, then threatened the new settlement at Derry, but the garrison stood strictly on the defensive and nothing was done. Docwra thought it prudent to abandon the project of detaching 1,000 men to Ballyshannon, and losses by sickness soon showed the wisdom of his decision. Sir Arthur O’Neill, son of old Tirlogh Luineach, came to the fort with a few followers, and the garrison found abundant occupation in hunting cows for their own consumption, and in skirmishing with the O’Cahans and O’Dogherties.[345]

Carew in Munster. Florence MacCarthy.

Carew’s great idea was to divide his enemies by policy before he proceeded to crush them by force. His first object was to disarm the active hostility of Florence MacCarthy, and to that end he sought an interview with him. ‘So fearful a creature,’ he said, ‘I did never see, mistrusting to be killed by every man he saw,’ but both Lord Thomond and Sir Nicholas Walshe swore solemnly that he should return safely. The practical result of the conference was that Florence promised the President to remain neutral, while the Sugane Earl reminded him that he would be more than 1,700 strong, and that he would take no excuse. Another means of weakening the rebels was to make them distrust each other, and to this end Carew encouraged a protected rebel, named John Nugent, who had been in the service of Sir Thomas Norris and had deserted, to kill John Fitzthomas, the Sugane Earl’s brother. The attempt failed, and Nugent was promptly hanged; but it was known that the would-be[Pg 364] assassin had obtained money, a horse and arms from the President, and the feeling of insecurity among the Irish became as great as if the murder had actually taken place.[346]

Carew employs Dermot O’Connor,
who arrests Desmond (June).

Another plot was directed against the Sugane Earl himself, and it came very near succeeding. Dermot O’Connor and his wife proved quite ready to do the President’s work, and Lady Margaret’s unwillingness to acknowledge any Desmond but her brother was an excuse which would have some weight with the people of Munster. The jealousy between Dermot’s mercenaries and the followers of James Fitzthomas was already excessive. At all events Dermot agreed to deliver up the Sugane Earl for 1,000l. Archbishop MacGrath had been active in the matter, and his two sons became securities for Carew, along with two of Lady Margaret’s foster-brothers, named Power. To give up these hostages openly would have disclosed the plot, and it was arranged that they should fall as it were accidentally into Dermot’s hands. They very nearly fell victims to the violence of his men, who were not in the secret. To give Dermot the desired opportunity of seizing his ally, the President ostentatiously dispersed his force, by way of putting him off his guard. As a further protection Carew wrote a letter to the Sugane Earl, which made it appear that he had undertaken to deliver O’Connor alive or dead; and it was calculated that this would be sufficient defence for the latter when the treachery should have taken effect. The letter was placed in Dermot’s hands in such a way that he could say he had intercepted it. All precautions having been taken, O’Connor asked for an interview with the man whom he intended to betray. They distrusted one another, and each brought an armed force with him. The ill-feeling already existing between the followers of Tyrone and Desmond soon found a vent, and, to avoid further disunion, the two leaders agreed to dismiss their men. Dermot had a few trusty adherents in ambush, and with their help he arrested the Sugane Earl in O’Neill’s name, producing Carew’s letter as sufficient warrant. The prisoner was secured[Pg 365] at Castle Ishin, near Charleville, and word was sent to the President to come to Kilmallock, where Lady Margaret was to meet him and receive the promised thousand pounds.[347]

O’Donnell harries Clare

In the meantime Hugh Roe O’Donnell had resolved to follow up Tyrone’s plan of persecuting all native lords who refused to join the confederacy. Lord Barry had already suffered, and the Earls of Clanricarde and Thomond were now to have their turn. It was seen that Docwra was not strong enough to take the offensive, and Tyrone, therefore, required no help as against him. Leaving a corps of observation under O’Dogherty and Nial Garv O’Donnell, Hugh Roe mustered all his forces at Ballymote. The chiefs who came to him were O’Rourke, O’Connor Sligo, O’Connor Roe, MacDermot, and Theobald Burke, calling himself MacWilliam Iochtar. The allies marched without fighting to the neighbourhood of Gort, and then suddenly burst into Clare. A camp was pitched near Ennis, where only the monastery was spared, and plundering parties were sent in all directions west of the Fergus. ‘Many a feast,’ say the annalists, ‘fit for a goodly gentleman, or for the lord of a territory, was enjoyed throughout Thomond this night by parties of four or five men, under the shelter of a shrubbery or at the side of a bush.’

and Clanricarde.

Retreating slowly to Corcomroe Abbey, and scouring the country right and left, the invaders burned every house; and we are particularly told that the smoke enveloped the whole line of march, and that it was dense enough to make them lose their way. The rocky passes of Burren were passed without opposition, and the victorious raiders encamped near Oranmore, where they divided their immense booty of cattle. A few had been killed and wounded in the foray, especially in the attack on Clare Castle, and the survivors were sent home in charge of Theobald Burke and of those who guarded the cattle. O’Donnell himself, with 500 foot and 60 horse, went to Loughrea, and drove off all the herds they could find to Ballymote. The English account says[Pg 366] that Thomond punished his enemies with the help of Captain Flower and of over 800 English soldiers, and that he recovered a great part of his cattle; but of this the annalists—ever favourable to O’Donnell—make no mention. In Clanricarde there seems to have been no opposition at all.[348]

The Sugane Earl rescued.

O’Donnell’s enterprise restored the spirits of the Irish, and perhaps prevented Carew from seizing his prey promptly. Piers Lacy collected 4,000 men and suddenly surrounded Castle Ishin. Carew had vainly awaited Lady Margaret for a week at Kilmallock, and he now, in spite of Flower’s absence, advanced to the rescue. But it was too late. A priest had persuaded the garrison, and the Sugane Earl was already in Lacy’s hands. Dermot O’Connor excused himself, and no doubt this failure was not his fault; but the chance of 1,000l. was lost, and he soon made friends with the rebels once more. The Munster Irish still very naturally mistrusting him, he withdrew into Connaught, and on his brother-in-law’s restoration to the honours of Desmond again offered his services to Carew. A safe-conduct was accordingly sent to him, but he was waylaid near Gort by Tibbot-ne-Long Burke, with 100 men in the Queen’s pay, taken prisoner, and put to death. Private revenge was Burke’s motive, but Clanricarde and the President were ‘exceedingly incensed’ at a murder which threw doubts upon the good faith of both.[349]

Mountjoy’s share in the Essex conspiracy.

Elizabeth’s dislike to name a successor was well known, and should have been respected by one who owed so much to her as Essex did. That there was, in fact, no dispute about the matter was due to Cecil’s admirable management, but the Earl’s uneasy ambition was not likely to lose the chance of establishing a claim on the coming man. He entered into negotiations with James in 1598, representing that Cecil favoured the claims of the Infanta and was plotting to make them good. James had little to fear from any rival; but it was in his nature to be busy, and he intrigued with Tyrone[Pg 367] as well as with Essex. In August 1599, immediately before his journey to the north, the latter thought seriously of taking 2,000 or 3,000 men over to Wales, and broached the design privately to Southampton and Blount, who both earnestly dissuaded him. It was about that time that Mountjoy also opened communications with James, and with him the influence of Lady Rich may have counted for much. His first proposals to the Scottish king are not known, but we may judge of their nature by what happened afterwards. When Essex after his return from Ireland, was committed to the Lord-Keeper’s house, and in daily fear of being sent to the Tower, he called upon Mountjoy and Southampton to look after his interests. They were willing to help him to escape, but he declared himself ready ‘rather to run any danger than to lead the life of a fugitive.’ When it was finally decided that Mountjoy should undertake the government of Ireland, Essex pressed him to take some more decided course. ‘He then swore,’ says one who was present, ‘exacting the like oaths from my Lord of Southampton and myself, to defend with the uttermost of our lives her Majesty’s person and government during her life against all persons whatsoever, and it was resolved to send Henry Lee again into Scotland, with offer that if the King would enter into the cause at that time, Lord Mountjoy would leave the kingdom of Ireland defensibly guarded, and with 4,000 or 5,000 men assist that enterprise, which, with the party that my Lord of Essex would be able to make, were thought sufficient to bring that to pass which was intended.’ It seems that James was not expected to do more than show himself on the border, while his ambassador in London pressed for a public acknowledgment of his right to the succession. Lee was still in Scotland when Mountjoy went to Ireland, and he was arrested as soon as he returned. What Essex intended, or whether he had any definite plan at all, may be doubted; but Mountjoy made it clear that he at least was playing only ‘for the establishment of the succession, and not for private ambition.’[350]

[Pg 368]

James VI., Essex, and Mountjoy.

Mountjoy told Southampton that he had foreseen Essex’s ruin before his return from Ireland, and that he had opened the correspondence with James as a possible means of saving him. The king was advised not to leave the whole realm in the hands of his enemies, and it was hoped that a diversion might thus be made. In his second letter, if not in his first, Mountjoy proposed that James ‘should prepare an army, declare his intent, and that he would be ready to assist him with the army in Ireland, whither he was going,’ but insisting on his former stipulation that nothing should be done against Queen Elizabeth. This might, perhaps, mean no more than that, if the succession were declared in England, he would see the same done in Ireland. Southampton made similar offers, but also reserved his allegiance to the Queen. James gave an evasive answer, declaring that he would bear the matter in mind, but that the establishment of a garrison at Lough Foyle was a condition precedent to any action on his part. Mountjoy did not afterwards deny that he had entertained the idea of bringing troops over to Wales, but only in consideration of the heir to the throne being engaged in the business. James’s caution did not suit the impatient Essex, who approved of a suggestion by Danvers, ‘that the army of Ireland would suffice alone.’ He sent Southampton over to sound Mountjoy, ‘which,’ says the envoy, ‘I did, and he utterly rejected it as a thing which he could no way think honest, and dissuaded me from any such courses.’ Lady Rich was on the other side of the Channel, and loyalty now resumed its sway. Willing, as he says, to redeem his fault of intention, the Earl remained as a volunteer in Ireland, and Mountjoy vainly tried to have him made Governor of Connaught. This was in June, and in the following month Southampton[Pg 369] went to Holland. The probability is that Cecil had a shrewd suspicion of the truth. But Essex determined to make another attempt. Early in August Danvers and Cuffe met at the Cross Inn at Oxford, and the latter brought a direct message from Essex. ‘My Lord requested,’ says Danvers, ‘that notwithstanding my Lord of Southampton’s departure, I would proceed in my journey, and communicate the projects with my Lord Mountjoy, and procure his letter.’ He took the precaution of sending a special messenger to London, who returned with reiterated instructions from Essex, and thereupon he started for Ireland. He was met with a positive refusal from Mountjoy, who spoke even more decidedly than he had done to Southampton. ‘He desired my lord to have patience, to recover again by ordinary means the Queen’s ordinary favour; that though he had it not in such measure as he had had heretofore, he should content himself; that at his coming home he would do for him like a friend; that he hoped my lord would do nothing but that which should be justifiable in honour and honesty. In that confidence, if he sent for a letter, he would send him such a one as he might justify.’ Very good advice, but not such as Essex was capable of following for long. The spoiled child would have all or nothing.[351]

The Pale: Mountjoy’s plan.

The defeat at the Blackwater and the complete failure of Essex had reduced the army to a miserable state. Under Mountjoy the soldiers gradually gained confidence, and no doubt he was well advised in not hurrying matters. After the skirmish in the Moyry pass he lay for some days at Newry, and in the meantime a certain amount of damage was done in the Pale. The causeway through the pass was partly broken up by the Irish, and he thought it prudent to return by Carlingford to Dundalk. ‘At this time,’ says Moryson, who, as Mountjoy’s secretary, was an eye-witness of what he describes, ‘the county of Dublin on the south of the Liffey was, in effect, entirely overrun by the rebels; the[Pg 370] county of Kildare was likewise possessed or wasted by them. The county of Meath was wasted, as also the county of Westmeath (excepting the barony of Delvin) and the county of Louth; so that in the English Pale, the towns having garrisons, and the lands from Drogheda to Navan, and thence back to Trim, and so to Dublin, were only inhabited, which were also like to grow waste, if they were further charged with the soldiers.’ The English writer excepts Delvin, but the annalists say it was invaded by Tyrone six months before, who wasted it until the Baron ‘submitted to O’Neill on his terms.’ Maryborough and Philipstown were cut off from Dublin, and Mountjoy’s first care was to restore perfect communications. His plan was to strengthen and victual the garrisons so as to secure them against attack, while harrying the country so thoroughly as to make it impossible for the Irish to keep the field.[352]

Mountjoy in King’s County (July).

The remnant of the O’Connors were still troublesome in Offaly, and they had the help of Captain Tyrrell, a renowned partisan who was much in Tyrone’s confidence. Mountjoy, to quote his own words, went ‘into the country on foot over a bog, and went out of it in like sort.’ But he was not always on foot, for he records that grey Davies, his easiest-going horse, was shot under him. With little loss he drove the Irish up and down the country, and the O’Connors never made much head against him. During the three or four years of Tyrone’s supremacy they had destroyed most of the King’s County castles, and Mountjoy’s care now was to destroy the crops, so that they could not reoccupy the ground. Not only did he reap the green corn, but used harrows and grubbers with long teeth, called pracas, to root it up.[353]

Mountjoy in Queen’s County. Death of Owen MacRory (August).

A fortified post was established at the Togher, between Monasterevan and Maryborough, thus securing access to Philipstown at all times; and here again Southampton did good service by his gallantry and by his example to the soldiers. Sir Samuel Bagenal was able to take the offensive[Pg 371] in the neighbourhood of Newry, and Sir Richard Moryson about Dundalk. O’Donnell wasted much of his strength in useless forays, and Docwra was beginning to make himself felt in Tyrone’s rear. In the middle of August Mountjoy started from Carlow with 800 foot and 100 horse, and entered the Queen’s County, burning the villages and destroying the standing corn. Owen MacRory remonstrated, in a letter to Ormonde, against this ‘execrable and abominable course,’ and also wrote to ask Mountjoy for a conference with some gentleman sent by him. The Lord Deputy handed the letter to an Irish fool named Neale Moore, who answered that no one in the camp was base enough to confer with him, but that if Owen would submit to him on his knees, he, the said Neale, would undertake that his submission should be accepted or that he should return safe. Next day O’More was killed in a skirmish near Timahoe, and with him Callogh MacWalter, the man who first laid hands on Ormonde at his late capture. The Earl was now in the field with a large force, and Mountjoy’s plan of embroiling him with the O’Mores had taken full effect. After Owen’s death the sept never made head again, and the English settlers gradually returned to their houses. There was much hard fighting both going and returning, but everywhere the Lord Deputy was victorious. From Carlow almost to the foot of Slieve Bloom the cattle were driven off and the crops destroyed. But on returning, the pass of Cashel was found to be occupied by more than 2,000 men. Donell Spaniagh, seeing how the event was likely to turn out, begged for protection to go to Dublin, which was granted, since it was impossible to take him; and then, like Rob Roy at Sheriffmuir, he drew his men off to a hill whence they could see the fight. Keeping on the high ground, the troops passed safely to Stradbally and thence to Naas. But Sir Arthur Savage, the new governor of Connaught, was unable to effect a junction. The great point gained was that the soldiers began to think themselves invincible, and that they had confidence in their general.[354]

[Pg 372]

Mountjoy presses Tyrone back (September to October).

After a short rest in Dublin, Mountjoy established a camp at Faughard near Dundalk. The array was supposed to be over 4,000 strong, but was in reality under 3,000, and the weather caused much sickness. ‘Our tents,’ said the Lord Deputy, ‘are often blown down, and at this instant it doth rain into mine, so that I can scant write.’ Great floods prevented any forward movement, but there were constant skirmishes. Tyrone had an entrenched camp in the Moyry pass, which was twice captured, though no attempt was made to hold it; and finding that Mountjoy’s progress could not be stopped, Tyrone left the passage open to Newry. The earthworks in the pass were levelled, and the woods on both sides cut down. The facts are clear enough; but the Irish annalists give a totally misleading account of these movements, and of those that followed them.[355]

Mountjoy bridles Tyrone (November).

After waiting ten days at Newry for provisions, Mountjoy marched out towards Armagh. Rather less than half-way he built a fort in a strong position, and named it Mount-Norris, after Sir John, his master in the art of war. Tyrone was near, and did what he could to hinder the work; but he was defeated with loss, and the fort finished, victualled, and garrisoned with 400 men in one week. Finding it impossible to keep his horses alive in a country where the grass had been eaten down by cattle, the Lord Deputy did not attempt Armagh, but proclaimed a reward of 2,000l. for Tyrone alive and 1,000l. for him dead, and then returned to Carlingford, where there was a good store of provisions. At Narrow-water a vessel brought cheese and biscuit for the soldiers, who had been fasting for two days, and having eaten it ‘never men went on in a greater jollity.’ The narrow pass between Carlingford mountain and the sea was disputed by Tyrone. The ground was thickly wooded, and the Irish had erected a strong barricade and dug several trenches. Mountjoy’s principal secretary was killed by his side, and the place fell to Moryson, the historian, but the troops made steady[Pg 373] progress. Tyrone narrowly escaped a shot, and his men gradually yielded to the disciplined valour of soldiers who fought under the eye of a captain in whom they believed. Fynes Moryson, who was staying that day with his brother, the governor of Dundalk, could hear the volleys seven miles distant ‘sensibly by reverberation of the garden wall;’ and says ‘the Irish lost 800 men, while the English had 200 killed and 400 not seriously wounded, and that Tyrone’s reputation (who did all things by reputation) was clean overthrown, so that from all places they began to seek pardons and protections.’ Strength, or the appearance of strength, has always ruled in Ireland.[356]

Docwra extends his power in Ulster.

While Mountjoy slowly but surely reduced the Pale and the district bordering on it, Sir Henry Docwra held his own at Derry. Sir Arthur O’Neill, old Tirlogh Luineach’s eldest son, joined him, and did good service both as adviser and ally, but he brought no great force into the field. Tyrone derided him as ‘Queen Elizabeth’s earl that cannot command 100 kerne,’ and she felt the sarcasm keenly, having really contemplated the transfer of the arch-rebel’s honours to his kinsman. Sir Arthur advised a raid into O’Cahan’s country, and 700 men were sent by night along the Donegal shore of Lough Foyle. At Greencastle they took boat, and crossing silently came upon all the cattle collected in fancied security, for attack from that side had not been dreamed of. One hundred live cows and some carcases were secured, ‘but for want of means to bring all away the soldiers hacked and mangled as many as they could.’ The process of exhausting the country was deliberately undertaken. Sir John Chamberlain, who was the leader of this expedition, was killed a few days later in repelling an attack upon Aileach castle by the O’Dogherties, his body being pierced by no less than sixteen wounds. Four days after this fight, in which Docwra himself had a horse shot under him, a strong outpost was fortified at Dunalong on the eastern bank of the Foyle. In this case also the approach was made by water, and Tyrone, who was encamped not far off, found the entrenchments unassailable[Pg 374] after a single day’s work upon them. Within their lines everywhere the English were safe, but not a mile outside.[357]

Fighting about Lough Foyle.

Among the Irishmen who had been recommended to Docwra by the Government was Maelmory MacSwiney, who had been chief of O’Donnell’s gallowglasses, and connected with him by close ties; but who was now in receipt of a life pension of six shillings a day and in command of 100 English soldiers. This man opened communications with O’Donnell, and drove out a large number of horses on purpose that they might be seized. This was done before daylight, and near 200 were swept off into the heart of Tyrconnell. The alarm being given, Docwra leaped from his bed and pursued with a score of horsemen, leaving the rest to follow as soon as they were ready. He was wounded in the head and his men had enough to do to carry him off, leaving the prey with the O’Donnells. Docwra was confined to his bed for a fortnight, and on his recovery found that not more than twenty per cent. of his men were able to pass muster. It was clearly proved that MacSwiney was the cause of the late disaster, and he was sent by sea to Dublin; but the hatchway being left open for the reception of the beer barrels, he sprang on deck, threw himself into the Foyle, and reached O’Cahan’s country, the people on board being too much amazed to stop him. Instigated perhaps by this keen spirit, Rory O’Cahan, the chief’s brother, brought a present of sixty fat beasts, which were much wanted, and afterwards put the soldiers in the way of taking as many more. Having thus made himself agreeable, Rory asked for 800 men to do a more important piece of service. Sir Arthur O’Neill warned Docwra not to trust him, and it turned out that his object was to lead the soldiers into an ambuscade prepared by Tyrone himself. Having secured his own safety, Rory then offered to ransom his hostages for a certain quantity of cattle, threatening that he would never spare an Englishman if they came to any harm. Docwra’s answer was to erect a gibbet on the rampart, and to hang the poor wretches before the face of[Pg 375] their principal, who stood with 300 men on the other side of the Foyle.[358]

Sufferings of Derry garrison (September to October).
They are relieved.

As the autumn days closed in, the garrison of Derry were in a miserable state, ‘men wasted with continual labours, the island scattered with cabins full of sick, our biscuit all spent, our other provisions of nothing but meal, butter, and a little wine, and that, by computation, to hold out but six days longer.’ The temptation to desert was great, and both Tyrone and O’Donnell offered free passage through their territories. Not only was the garrison diminished, but the loss of horses and the miserable condition of those left made it impossible to patrol at any distance from the walls. On the night of September 16, O’Donnell crept up unseen to the very edge of the bog which bounded Derry on the land side, and then, for some inexplicable reason, his men fired a volley. The garrison sallied out, and put them to flight. It was probably a last effort to frighten Docwra into a parley, for he was relieved the very next day. A plentiful supply of provisions, 50 fresh horse and 600 foot were introduced from the sea, as well as two timber frames upon which water-tight storehouses might easily be erected. And it was announced to the men that they were to receive 4d. a day extra when they worked upon the fortifications. The Irish had lost their opportunity, and it never returned.[359]

Neill Garv O’Donnell.
Docwra wins Lifford (October).

A more important recruit than either MacSwiney or Sir Arthur O’Neill was Neill Garv O’Donnell, grandson of Calvagh and husband of Hugh Roe’s sister Nuala, who separated from him in consequence of his defection. He brought 100 men with him, and was promised a grant of Tyrconnell as soon as his brother-in-law had been expelled. The O’Donnells had never been a united family, and Neill Garv probably thought his claim at least as good as that of the actual chief. His three brothers took part with him, the immediate consequence being that the English had plenty of fresh meat and that they were much less closely beleaguered than before. The first actual service required of Neill Garv was to take the ancestral seat at Lifford, and for[Pg 376] this purpose over 300 men were sent under his guidance. The castle had been razed, but a weak earthwork defended the small town, and Hugh Roe had left some thirty men in charge. They fled without resistance, after setting fire to the place, and the English proceeded to entrench themselves strongly, finding welcome shelter in about twenty houses, which were all that the late garrison had left unburned. Twice within a fortnight O’Donnell vainly exerted all his force to recover the place, though his presence enabled the country people to get in their crops and to carry away the produce safely. On the second occasion there was a sharp skirmish, in which Captain Heath was killed, and Neill Garv had a horse shot under him, but Lifford was not retaken. Four days later Sir Arthur O’Neill died of a fever brought on by ‘drinking too many carouses on his marriage-day,’ and his brother Cormac claimed to succeed him. But Tirlogh, his son by a former wife, was accepted by Docwra, and did such service as his youth permitted.[360]

Spaniards in the North (November).

About the beginning of November, two Spanish ships put into Broadhaven, with money, arms, and ammunition for the Irish. O’Donnell sent the foreigners word that Killybegs would be a better place for them, and also announced their arrival to Tyrone. Eventually the Spaniards put into the little harbour of Teelin, whence the cargo was carried to Donegal, and divided between the two chiefs. A descent of this kind had been talked of for months, but Cecil had given little credence to these rumours, and when the long-expected aid actually came, it was not enough to affect the result, or to imperil Docwra’s position in any way.[361]

Docwra annoys Tyrone.
The O’Dogherties.

Neill Garv and his brothers Hugh, Donnell, and Con made several raids from Lifford into Tyrone, and took Newtown, now Newtown Stewart, from the O’Neills. O’Donnell’s great object was to get possession of his formidable kinsman, and[Pg 377] he employed two of the MacDevitts, a sept of O’Dogherties, named Hugh Boy and Phelim Reagh. Captain Alford, the governor of Culmore, pretended friendship with these men, and engaged to give up the fort to them, with Neill Garv inside. Alford’s object was to draw them into an ambuscade, and he pretended to make conditions. 1,000l. down and 3,000l. a year pension from Spain were promised him, and a chain of gold formerly given by Philip II. to O’Donnell, and worth 160l., was actually given in earnest. A day was appointed for the treason, but the Irish broke their tryst. In a short time Hugh Boy and Phelim Reagh were Docwra’s firm friends. Cahir O’Dogherty, the chief’s son, had been fostered by them, and was now in O’Donnell’s hands, who had announced that he should succeed his father. But when Sir John died, he favoured Cahir’s uncle, and the foster-parents were very angry. On condition that their nursling should be established, they offered to keep Innishowen at Docwra’s service. O’Donnell was induced to free the young man, and immediately all the O’Dogherties, with their cattle, left him, and returned to their own district. Supplies were thus secured to the English garrison, as well as good intelligence, and Docwra confesses that without their aid the progress made would have been comparatively small. Thus it ever was in Ireland: the natives fought among themselves, and so lost all. ‘They had their own ends in it,’ said Docwra, ‘which were always for private revenge; and we ours, to make use of them for the furtherance of the public service.’[362]

Carew subdues Munster (July to August).
Glin Castle.
Murder of a loyalist.

Shortly before midsummer the White Knight made his submission, and was soon to do signal service. The castles of Bruff and Lough Gur were taken and garrisoned, the mere preparations for a scientific cannonade being enough to cause their evacuation, and the triangle made by Limerick, Cashel, and Kilmallock was freed from the rebels. The county of Waterford was almost cleared, and Connello and Aherlow alone harboured any considerable number. Cahir was voluntarily surrendered, and the ordnance left there by Essex was[Pg 378] sent to Clonmel. Glin in Limerick and Carrigafoyle in Kerry still held out, an