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PLANTATION IN ULSTER
Commencement of the Seventeenth Century,
REV. GEORGE HILL,
EDITOR OF The Montgomery Manuscripts, AND AUTHOR OF An Historical Account
of the Macdonnells of Antrim.
“Jf any there be which are desirous to be strangers in their own soile,
and forrainers in their own citie, they may so continue, and therein
T H E contents of this volume may be described, in general terms, as a compilation from
State Papers relating to the movement which we now familiarly designate the
important collections of Irish State Papers, have recently brought to light plantation records of such value, variety, and extent, that the compiler was induced to prepare from them a connected narrative of the events to which they, more or less directly, refer. This narrative, it may be stated, embodies also a large amount of equally important materials derived from the Patent Rolls of the period, the Inquisitions of Ulster, the Barony Maps of 1609, and other original, but hitherto comparatively inaccessible sources. The publication of these numerous papers and documents, and especially of such as have been recently presented to the public by means of fairly and carefully prepared calendars, is indeed an addition to our historical literature of inestimable value.
Before the publication of the Carew calendars, there was not much known of the causes leading to that lamentable struggle of seven years' duration, which commenced in 1595, and closed with the surrender of the northern chiefs in 1602. The preceding events had remained provokingly hazy, if not indeed mysterious, for it was well known that during many years before 1588 the English rule became rather popular than otherwise in the North, and that Shane O'Neill was finally defeated, in 1567, by the O'Donnells rather than by the government. Hugh O'Neill, although eventually one of the most formidable of his name, had been educated in English ideas and habits, serving loyally in English armies, first against the Desmonds of the South, and afterwards against the Macdonnells of the North. He had repeatedly, also, and of his own free will, renuunced the title of The O'Neill, accepting in preference the dignity of an English earldom, and restoration to the family estates by royal grant rather than by the sanction of Celtic law. How, then, did it happen, that these friendly relations of full twenty years' standing, between the government and the Irish of Ulster, were so abruptly and utterly broken up? By what means did it come to pass, that, whilst Shane O'Neill found it necessary to force the O'Donnells and Maguires into the northern combination he had formed against the Government, Hugh O'Neill, on the contrary, required to hold in check the headlong fury of the entire northern population in its vehemence for war with the English? The reader will find that certain věry significant petitions and remonstrances, preserved among the Carew papers, have amply illustrated this remarkable state of affairs. (See pp. 38-50). Camden might have given us more light on the subject than he has deigned to afford, for he was actually writing Ulster history at the time to which we refer, and had access to the Irish State Papers soon after their receipt in London ; but he looked only at one side of the great controversy then raging in our northern province, and concocted his historical
dainties mainly for the gratification of English palates. In the first or introductory chapter of this volume, the reader has a sketch of the events which led to the war with Hugh O'Neill, as well as of the early history of the great Ulster families afterwards dispossessed.
Since the printing of these plantation papers, there can exist no longer any doubt, or dispute, as to the real extent of the then confiscated lands in Ulster. The six counties of Armagh, Tyrone, Coleraine, Donegal, Fermanagh, and Cavan, contain about 3,798,000 statute acres, all of which escheated or fell to the Crown, and were thus made available for the several purposes of plantation, Such portions of these six counties as could not be included in the attainder of the fugitive earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell, or in that of their immediate adherents who went with them into exile, were claimed for the King through an act of parliament known as the 11th of Elizabeth, which act had not been repealed, nor even modified, in reference to the several territories wherein it was now specially required to operate. It was with more than ordinary gratification, therefore, that Sir John Davys, the Attorney-General for Ireland, and the highest authority, perhaps, on questions of title to land, wrote to his patron, Salisbury, from the vicinity of Coleraine, on the 5th of August, 1608, in the following terms :—“They (the commissioners of survey) hope before Michaelmas to present a perfect survey of six several counties, which the King has now in demesne and actual possession, in this province; which is a greater extent of land than any prince in Europe has to dispose of, the disposition whereof by plantation of colonies is a matter of great consideration, wherein it is not easy to lay down a good and sure project.” Whilst this fact, then, about the extent of the confiscation, could not be more clearly stated in words, nor on higher authority, we have it actually demonstrated on the barony maps of 1609, which show how the lands were laid out for the several plantation purposes, but do not indicate lands remaining for any other purposes whatever. That vast area, therefore, of nearly four millions of statute acres, was parcelled out to British undertakers, London citizens, English servitors in Ireland, Protestant bishops and incumbents, corporate towns, forts, free schools, the college then recently established at Dublin, and certain native inhabitants of the province—for even the little shreds given to them, were given from the confiscated lands, and specially for plantation purposes.
With only two, or perhaps three exceptions, every native landlord, and every native tenant within the bounds of the six counties was dispossessed and displaced ; and although a few of both classes were afterwards permitted to share slightly in the great land-spoil, it was only in some other and less attractive localities than their own (1). In other words, such natives as succeeded in
(1). Their own. The only two families not displaced (though dispossessed by the ith of Elizabeth) were those of Sir Tirlagh McHenry O'Neill of the Fews, and Sir Henry Oge O'Neill, whose lands lay on both sides of the Blackwater. These Irish lords, the former of whom was the Earl of Tyrone's half-brother, and the latter his sonin-law, had joined him against the government in 1595, but deserted him in 1598, hoping to receive grants from the crown of the estates which they had previously held under him [Tyrone] as the head landlord. But their arrangement with the government of Queen Elizabeth was made many years before the plantation, and was a
merely nominal affair, which could have been set aside at any time simply on the grounds of its illegality, the Act known as the rith of Elizabeth by which these and other lands in Ulster had been confiscated still remaining in force. The grants in both cases required afterwards to be made legal, but this was done in return for their surrender to the government, and not because of any subsequent conditions. One other Irish gentleman, named Mulmorie, son of Hugh Connelagh O'Reilly, was not displaced, though 'dispossessed by the plantation. His case, however, was quite exceptional, and the fact of his happening, in 1610, to get a grant of at least a part of