Ireland sick of the Cromwell
Government - Welcomes the Prospect of the Restoration - The Army supreme
- Coote Ruler of Ulster - Richard Cromwell abdicates - The Royalists
seize Dublin Castle - Coote secures Drogheda - Death of the Governor of
Carrickfergus - Londonderry submits - Coote appointed a Commissioner for
Ireland - He corresponds with Charles, and attends him on his entry into
London - Monck appointed Lord-Lieutenant - Coote created Earl of
Mountrath - The Irish Parliament meet in Dublin - Presbyterian Members
for Ulster - Ormonde returns as Viceroy - The Act of Settlement
Ireland, like England,
was tired of the rigid rule of the Commonwealth and rejoiced at the prospect of the Restoration. Cromwell
to her was nothing more than an instigator of incomprehensible cruelty, a bloodthirsty monster who worked without a conscience or any aim save the extermination of the
Irish race. On Cromwell's death there was no hand strong enough to hold the reins of government, no commanding personality with whom the people could blend the idea of a leader. There were few like Ludlow prepared to worship an abstraction and call it the republic. The army, after years of war, had grown to be an entity, and an entity possessed of power. The civilian population, and especially the civilian population of Ireland, were sick of the rule of the Roundheads. Of the four provinces, Leinster alone had a leaning towards the Puritans. Ulster under Sir Charles Coote was prepared to do his bidding. His sway over the army in the north was supreme. Munster was at the beck of Roger Boyle, Lord Broghill, third son of the great Earl of Cork, an opportunist like his father. He also had great influence with the soldiery in the south. Connaught, filled with Irish refugees from the wrath of Cromwell, was Royalist to the backbone. The hold on power of Henry Cromwell, an amiable as well as an honourable man, was weak, although he too was popular with the army. All the elements that ensure success were in favour of the return of the King.
The reaction commenced in
the English House of Commons, in which a large and steady majority favoured the revival of the old civil constitution under a new dynasty, and passed a vote acknowledging the right of those nobles who had taken the side of public liberty, to sit in the Upper House of Parliament without any new creation. This by no means pleased the officers of the army, who regarded it as a straw indicative of the quarter from which the wind of public opinion blew, and believed it to prognosticate the passing of the power of the sword, that power of which they were themselves the embodiment. They therefore allied themselves with the republicans in the House of Commons and forced the new Protector to dissolve the Parliament. Richard Cromwell resisted, though he well knew resistance was useless, for he had no military prestige, and he was hurried towards abdication as helplessly and hopelessly as a snowflake on a swift stream. The Council of Officers then recalled the Rump, or remainder of the Long Parliament, expelled in 1653, which they proclaimed as the supreme power in the Commonwealth, while at the same time it was expressly declared that there should be no first magistrate and no House of Lords. The Parliament, however, forgetful of the fact that it had suffered expulsion and owed its recall to power to the desire of the soldiers, proceeded, headed by Haselrig, to quarrel with the officers, who, led by Lambert, prevailed, and the remnants of the Long Parliament were again expelled in October, 1659.
The Royalists took
advantage of these differences to revive their schemes. Royalist risings took place in various parts of England, but Lambert put them down. In Dublin John Jones, who had been one of the late King's judges, was in command of the army. In Ulster Coote, hearing of an alliance between the Cavaliers and Presbyterians, communicated with
Monck, who had declared his adhesion to the Parliament, stating that he intended to "prosecute this business against
ambition and tyranny to the last drops of my blood till they be restored". Coote promised Monck his support.
After the expulsion of
the Parliament by Lambert, a petition, signed by several officers in the Irish army, was, in January, 1660, presented to John Jones as commander-in-chief, asking him
to call a general council of officers to consider the situation. Jones
hesitating to do so, the officers decided the question by suddenly seizing the gates of Dublin Castle and taking the commander-in-chief prisoner, and also securing two other of the Commissioners, Corbet and Tomlinson. A
declaration for a free Parliament was cried through the streets next morning, and though not fully understood was approved of. No resistance was attempted, for the officers were in possession of the only magazine, which had not long been replenished with some 500 barrels of powder. Sir Charles Coote, who was in Connaught, secured the town and fort of Gal way, placed a new governor over them, and, having collected a strong body, consisting chiefly of the old English, who were most attached to the exiled royal family, surprised Athlone and marched to Dublin. Drogheda in the north and Limerick in the south were taken with equal facility. Broghill held Youghal, Bandon, and Kinsale. The garrisons of Cork and Waterford took the same course, and declared for a free Parliament; and the submission of Londonderry settled the question in Ulster. Colonel Cooper, the governor of Carrickfergus, died suddenly in his chair, and thus a possible source of trouble in the north was removed. Sir Hardress Waller became by common consent commander-in-chief.
Monck, who was in
Scotland in October, had been joined in his march south by Fairfax at York in December, and had been welcomed by the Irish Brigade in England when he reached Leicester. In February he entered London at the head of a force of 5000 and declared for a free Parliament. The Presbyterians, who had been expelled by Colonel Pride, returned, and the Long Parliament, having appointed a new one composed chiefly of Cavaliers and Presbyterians, finally dissolved itself. Broghill, Coote, and Major William Bury were appointed Commissioners for the Government of Ireland, and they summoned a convention to meet on the 7th of February. The places represented were as in Wentworth's time. The assembly was almost wholly Protestant. Sir James Barry, later Lord Santry, was chosen Speaker.
Sir Hardress Waller,
frightened by an order from the Council of State to the Convention bidding it dissolve, which it refused to do, seized the Castle with the intention of holding it; but the leaders of the Convention, having gained public confidence, easily overawed the garrison and secured Waller and his supporters, and sent them prisoners to England.
Coote now sent Sir Arthur
Forbes, a noted Royalist, who had been with Montrose, to Brussels with an offer of his services, and Charles gladly accepted them, offering an earldom and
other benefits, and proposing to join him, "except it be more necessary that I go for England". Broghill also approached Charles, while he kept up at the same time a correspondence with Thurloe.
Charles II was proclaimed
King at the gate of Westminster Hall on the 8th of May, 1660. He was
proclaimed in Dublin on the I4th, and on the 25th he landed at Dover, making his public entry into London on his birthday, May the 20th, when Broghill and Coote and others from Dublin attended him. Monck was appointed Lord-Lieutenant and Lord Robartes (afterwards Earl of Radnor) Lord Deputy, but neither of them came over; and at the end of the year Sir Maurice Eustace, who had been made Lord Chancellor, was appointed Lord Justice, with Coote and Broghill as colleagues. In September Coote was made Earl of Mountrath and Broghill Earl of Orrery.
Naturally the subject of
most moment in Ireland was the question of reparation to those who, having suffered for their loyalty to the royal cause, looked to the King in hopes of having their loyalty rewarded by having their lost estates restored to them. In the autumn of 1660 a Commission sat at Westminster to consider their claims, and counsel were heard on their side. The case presented many and great difficulties. The land had, it was true, been taken with violence from those who were professedly Royalists, but the debentures for payment of which it was taken had originally been issued to raise money to quell an Irish rebellion against the power and authority of the King. That the money had been devoted to other purposes did not affect the validity of the loan, for the Act under which it had been raised had been confirmed by Charles I, and the King could not disavow his father's act. His obligations to Ireland, however, were many
and great, and he determined, therefore, to recognize them as far as possible. The result was a compromise. The
Cromwellians were induced to relinquish a third part of their acquisitions, and the land thus surrendered was somewhat capriciously divided among claimants whom the Government chose to favour, with the inevitable consequence that
great numbers who protested that they were innocent of all disloyalty, and some who boasted that their loyalty had been signally displayed, obtained neither restitution nor
After an interval of
nearly twenty years the Irish Parliament met in Dublin on the 8th of
May, 1661. In the interval, so great had been the change that out of 260
members there was but one Roman Catholic. The exertions of the Presbyterians had resulted in the election of a few to represent Ulster, and in the Lords the Presbyterian interests were supported by Sir John Clotworthy, now created Lord Massareene.
The feeling with which
the opening of Parliament was regarded by members of the Government is well expressed in a letter addressed by Orrery to Ormonde (now raised to a dukedom) on the day on which the House met. "His Majesty", he writes, "having empowered the Lords Justices to appoint a fit person to be Speaker of the House of Lords, my Lord Chancellor has proposed to us the Lord Santry, against whom we had several material objections, besides his disability of body; and he being at best a cold friend to the declaration ; which made me propose my Lord Primate [Archbishop Bramhall, the great supporter of Laud's high-church
principles under Wentworth], well known in the orders and proceedings of that House (having sat in two Parliaments), a constant eminent sufferer for His late and now Majesty, and that in such a choice we might let the dissenters and fanatics see what we intend as to church government. Besides it was but requisite the church, which had so long suffered, should now (in the chief of it) receive all the honours we could confer on it. My Lord Chancellor for some days dissented therein, but at last concurred; and this day my Lord Primate sat in that character.
"The Lord Santry's
strange passionate carriage at it in the Council, his indiscretion towards my Lord Mountrath as well as His Majesty himself; your Lordship in my next shall have account of. His Majesty in the honour of his letters to us of the nth of March last ordered us to see Sir William Domville settled Speaker of the House of Commons here. This letter was not given us till the 27th of April last, at which time it was impossible to signify to the King what we humbly thought most advantageous to his service, and timely enough to receive his royal pleasure thereia; but having had some private notice of that concealed letter a few days before, it occasioned a letter to a friend in England, which produced His Majesty's letters of the 3Oth of April, received the 5th inst., empowering us to approve of whom we should think fit. Yesterday in full council it was resolved, since only two were in nomination (Sir William Domville and Sir Audley Mervyn), that it was best to leave the choice of either to the House itself, which this day was done; and notwithstanding several arts were used, yet this afternoon Sir Audley was chosen Speaker, and is to be presented us to-morrow to be approved. Those that opposed it would not, after they saw about three to one against them, come to a poll, but at last unanimously agreed for him.
"There sat this day in
the House of Lords but one Papist Peer, but some are to come to town this day, and divers others are coming. It may not be unworthy your Grace's observation, that the Papists and Anabaptists stood in several places to be chosen, yet but one of each sort was actually chosen, and they both in the borough of Tuam, an archbishop's See; from which all collect that both these opinions will oppose the true church. I am confident," Orrery adds, "that much the major number of the House of Commons are faithful servants to His Majesty and friends to the church, which, whatever may be represented to the contrary, will by effects be made appear."
The opinion thus
expressed was soon fulfilled by the event. Both Houses began with a declaration requiring all persons to conform to the church government and liturgy established by law, and they concurred in passing a vote of censure on the Covenant and oaths of Association. The hostility of the Parliament to the Catholics was shown on every occasion, as well as its favour to the Adventurers and soldiers the new possessors of estates whose titles were to be confirmed by law. In congratulating the King on his return, the members declared "that they were none of the seditious rebellious rabble whom it had pleased the Almighty to suppress by the might of His power, but loyal subjects, preserved alive amidst the storms of persecution, who abhorred the rebellion, and traitorous murder and parricide of his Majesty's father of blessed memory", and condemned the Protectorate as "a wicked, traitorous, and abominable usurpation".
In 1662 Ormonde returned
as Lord - Lieutenant, and Parliament again met in April, when the Act of Settlement, whereby it was concluded that all confiscations legitimately growing out of the insurrection ought to be held good, was passed. "Upwards of 3000 old proprietors were thus," says Lecky, "without a trial, excluded for ever from the inheritance of their
fathers." After the Act of Settlement, according to an estimate made by Colonel Laurence, a Cromwellian soldier
in Ireland, who wrote an account of this time, the Protestants possessed four-fifths of the whole kingdom; according to that of Sir William Petty they held rather more than two-thirds of the good land. Of the good land, as already stated, there had fallen under forfeiture from the rebellion 5,200,000 acres, nearly all of which, before October, 1641, had been owned by Catholics. Under the two Acts of Settlement, 2,340,000 acres were given back to the Catholics; 200,000 were restored to Ormonde, Inchiquin, and other Royalist Protestants; and 120,000 were given to the Duke of York substantially, therefore, to the Catholic cause.