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The History of Ulster
The Cromwellian Settlement


The Adventurers demand a Settlement - Particulars of their Demands - The Commonwealth appeal to them to colonize - They refuse and make Fresh Demands - A Lottery established in London to satisfy their Claims - Particulars of the Settlement - Connaught reserved for the Irish - The Plantation and Ulster - Attempt to transplant the Presbyterians of Antrim and Down - Transplantation or Transportation - Henry Cromwell, Lord Deputy - Death of Oliver Cromwell and Succession of Richard.

The Adventurers, as the subscribers for the debenture bonds issued under the Act of March, 1642, were called, had, as we have seen, a claim to over one million acres for the money advanced for putting down the rebellion, and by the Act referred to and subsequent Acts and ordinances, commonly called "The Acts of Subscription", lands to satisfy the Adventurers must be apportioned before the rest of the country could be disposed of to the army. The Adventurers had been very urgent during the whole course of the war that lands should be assigned to them; the Commissioners in Ireland therefore resolved to set about the scheme of colonization as speedily as possible.

The amount claimed by the Adventurers amounted to 294,095, being 281,812 for original advances and 12,283 under the ordinance of 1643. To satisfy this claim it was necessary to assign 1,038,234 acres. For this purpose it was suggested that an allotment of land should be made in each of the four provinces, and certain counties were selected which, according to the divisions then existing, were Cavan, Fermanagh, Donegal, and Monaghan in Ulster; Kilkenny, Longford, Carlow, Wexford, and Westmeath in Leinster; Limerick and Kerry in Munster; and Clare, Galway, Leitrim, and Sligo in Connaught. It was also proposed to make a permanent Pale between the Boyne and Barrow, with a strong garrison in Wicklow and another in the south between the Blackwater and the Suir. Having agreed on these matters, the Commissions called upon the Adventurers to attend a Committee of Parliament on the 3Oth of January, 1652, with a view to a speedy Plantation.

To this the Adventurers raised many objections, stating that no plan was proposed for their security, that the war was not over, and that the " Tories" were still to be found in great numbers a menace to life and property. They demanded that instead of the lands it was proposed should be allotted to them they should be given a choice of certain portions of Munster and of Leinster, and that they should be granted the city of Waterford. On these points they showed a decided front, and were not to be reasoned with concerning what they deemed their just demands.

The Act of Settlement being of itself only a preliminary step to further legislation, the Commissioners, at the close of 1652, urged upon the somewhat lethargic Long Parliament the advisability of dispatch. "The two great businesses", they wrote early in 1653, "which now lie before us are how to lessen your charge and how to plant the country, but neither of these can be done to any effect till we do hear your pleasure about the Bill before you for giving satisfaction to the Adventurers and also to satisfy the arrears of the soldiers."

Between the expulsion of the Long Parliament, on 20th April, 1653, and the Assembly which constituted itself the Parliament which will be associated during all time with the unco guid Praise-God Barebone Cromwell was supreme, and matters with regard to the proposed distribution of confiscated lands were accelerated. A lottery was appointed, as the Act required, to be held in Grocers' Hall, London, on the 20th of July, the drawing to commence at eight o'clock in the morning. No one lot was to exceed 10,000. Connaught was excluded, and the total to be provided for in the other three provinces was 360,000. This amount was divided into three lots, of which 45,000 was to be satisfied in Ulster, 205,000 in Leinster, and 10,000 in Munster; and the moiety of ten counties was charged with their payment Antrim, Armagh, and Down in Ulster; Meath, Westmeath, King's County, and Queen's County in Leinster; and Tipperary, Limerick, and Waterford in Munster. The Government reserved to itself towns, church lands, and tithes; the Established Church, hierarchy and all, having been abolished. The four counties of Cork, Carlow, Dublin, and Kildare were also reserved.

Lots were drawn first to ascertain in which province each Adventurer should be satisfied; secondly, to ascertain in which of the ten counties each Adventurer was to receive his land, lots in the aggregate not to exceed in Westmeath 70,000, in Tipperary 60,000, in Meath 55,000, in King's and Queen's Counties 40,000 each, in Limerick 30,000, in Waterford 20,000, and in Antrim, Armagh, and Down 15,000 each. In order to encourage the Adventurers and inspire them with confidence, it was proposed that their holdings should be in juxtaposition to those held by military planters; accordingly instructions were issued to the Com- missions "to divide all the forfeited lands, meadow, arable, and profitable pasture with the woods and bogs and barren mountains thereunto respectively belonging into two equal moities", one to pay the Adventurers' and the other the army's arrears. The ten counties mentioned were to be divided, each county by baronies, into two moieties, as equally as might be, without dividing any barony. A lot was then to be drawn by the Adventurers, and by some officer appointed by the Lord-General Cromwell on behalf of the soldiery, to ascertain which baronies in the ten counties should be for the former and which for the latter.

The rest of Ireland, with the exception of Con naught, was to be set out amongst the officers and soldiers in payment of their arrears, which amounted to 550,000, and to satisfy debts of money or provisions due for supplies advanced to the army of the Commonwealth amounting to 750,000. The five western counties of Connaught, which are nearly severed by the Shannon from the rest of the kingdom, and form a principality not unlike that of Wales, being reserved and appointed for "the home of the Irish race", all English and Protestants having lands there, who desired to remove out of the province into those inhabited by their fellow-countrymen, were granted estates in the English parts, of equal value, in exchange.

By this "settlement" the end at which the English Adventurers had been aiming was accomplished. All, or almost all, the land of the Irish in the three largest and richest provinces was confiscated, and the province "which rock and morass have doomed to a perpetual poverty, and which was at this time almost desolated by famine and by massacre", was assigned to the "mere Irish", who would, it was hoped, at no distant date conform to the habits, language, and religion of their conquerors. The new inhabitants were there to congregate from all the other provinces before the ist of May, 1654, under penalty of outlawry and all its consequences; and when there they were not to appear within two miles of the Shannon or four miles of the sea. A rigorous passport system, to evade which was death without form of trial, completed this settlement.

A proclamation was issued on nth of October, 1652, signed by Ludlow, John Jones, Corbet, and Weaver, stating that "The Parliament of the Commonwealth of England having by an act lately passed (entitled An Act for the Settling of Ireland) declared that it is not their intention to extirpate this whole nation, but that mercy and pardon for life and estate be extended to all husbandmen, plowmen, labourers, artificers, and others of the inferior sort, in such manner as in and by the said Act is set forth: for the better execution of the said Act, and that timely notice may be given to all persons therein concerned, it is ordered that the Governor and Commissioners of Revenue, or any two or more of them, within every precinct in this nation, do cause the said Act of Parliament with this present declaration to be published and proclaimed in their respective precincts by beat of drumme and sound of trumpett, on some markett day, within tenn days after the same shall come unto them within their respective precincts".

None of the inhabitants of Cavan, Fermanagh, Tyrone, or Donegal were transplanted to Leitrim, as it was held to be too near Ulster, besides being full of fastnesses; and, as a general rule, none of those inhabiting a district within ten miles of the Shannon on one side were permitted to settle near, or have lands assigned to them within the same distance on the other side. Leitrim, however, became filled with the Ulster creaghts. It was the first land they met with on entering Connaught, and they drove their herds of cattle into its mountains and valleys and depastured them, suffering less probably from the transplantation than others, being accustomed to a nomadic life and to pitch their frail temporary dwellings where the pasture suited their herds.

In the case of the soldiers the lands were either selected by authority for them or divided by lot. The regiments were kept together in bodies; the lot determined the situation of individuals. "They were settled down regiment by regiment, troop by troop, company by company, almost on the land they had conquered." Thus, as Clarendon well says, 4 'Ireland was the great capital out of which all debts were paid, all services rewarded, and all acts of bounty performed".

In Ulster the proximity of the Presbyterian Royalists of Down and Antrim to the Scottish Highlands was considered dangerous, and the removal of them was contemplated. A proclamation, dated 23rd May, 1653, against 260 persons was issued, including Lord Montgomery of Ardes and Lord Clandeboye. Sir Robert Adair and other leading Presbyterians were to be sent to Tipperary; but though orders were given for the transplantation nothing was done, Cromwell becoming Protector in December: "he did not force any engagement or promise upon people contrary to their conscience; knowing that forced obligations of that kind will bind no man".

The work of transplantation was a slow process, and it was thought that it might be accelerated by threats .of transportation: "And whereas the children, grandchildren, brothers, nephews, uncles, and next pretended heirs of the persons attainted, do remain in the provinces of Leinster, Ulster, and Munster, having little or no visible estates or subsistence, but living only and coshering upon the common sort of people who were tenants to or followers of the respective ancestors of such persons, waiting an opportunity, as may justly be supposed, to massacre and destroy the English who as adventurers or souldiers, or their tenants, are set down to plant upon the several lands and estates of the persons so attainted ..." it was decided that they should be at once transplanted or be shipped to the English plantations in America. "No one*', says Clarendon, "was exported who had not forfeited his life by rebellion; and it was the only way to save them from utter destruction: for such was their humour, that no English man or woman could stray a mile from their homes, but they were found murdered or stripped by the Irish, who lay in wait for them; so that the soldiers, if they had been allowed to remain in the country, would have risen upon them and totally destroyed them."

Fleetwood became Lord Deputy in August, 1654, and in the same year Henry Cromwell, the Protector's son, was appointed to the Council in Ireland; but he did not visit the country until July, 1655. Two years later, on the 11th of November, he was appointed Lord Deputy, and governed the country with wisdom and moderation. The period of his rule was distinguished only by quiet and gradual progress, and Ireland slowly advanced towards peace and prosperity. In 1655 the corporation of London was again put in possession of the county and city of Londonderry, which had been granted them by James I, and had been violently torn from them through the machination of Wentworth.

On the 3rd of September, 1658, Oliver Cromwell died, and Richard, his son, was proclaimed Protector in Dublin on the 10th of October. Four days previously Henry had been appointed Lord-Lieutenant by the new Protector. The death of Oliver opened a field for fresh intrigues among all political parties which still existed undiminished in zeal or animosity. At first Richard received the strongest assurances of support from Ireland, but it soon became evident that a great change was impending, and the party out of power began to prepare for it.


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