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The History of Ulster
Tyrconnell, Lord of Misrule


Clarendon's Arrival - Tyrconnell's Departure - The Militia disarmed - Changes in Favour of the Catholic Element - Rapid Emigration - Tyrconnell returns with Plenary Powers - He proceeds to exercise them - He attacks the Acts of Settlement - Clarendon recalled - Tyrconnell Lord Deputy - He seizes the Charters of Dublin and other Cities - Carrickfergus resists, but finally yields to blandishment - The Protestants make a stand at Enniskillen - The Establishment of Defence Associations - A Force sent from Dublin to garrison Londonderry - The City revolts and closes the Gates - Preparations made for Resistance.

"When the King sent me here", wrote Clarendon on his appointment as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, "he told me that he would support the English interest, and he sent me that the world might see that he would do so. They were to have the freedom of their religion, yet he would have them see, too, that he looked upon them as a conquered people, and that he would support the settlement inviolably." His public instructions intimated the King's desire that Roman Catholics should be introduced into the corporations, and that they should be made magistrates and officers of justice. The Protestants were to be given to understand that it was not the King's intention to alter the religious establishment. "Never in my life", wrote Clarendon to the King, "have I met with people fuller of duty to your Majesty, nor more desirous of opportunities to manifest their loyalty."

When Clarendon arrived, in December, Tyrconnell took his departure for London, and it was there, under his direction, that all Irish business of any importance was conducted. It was soon apparent that his influence was superior to all other, and that the King was inclined to give ear to the most violent and offensive counsels. The fruits of Tyrconnell's methods of administration were speedily seen. Without Clarendon's approbation, and even without his knowledge, preparations were made for arming and drilling the whole native population of the country. Steps were taken to place the arms of the militia beyond the reach of recovery. Chester Castle was made the arsenal for Ireland, and orders were issued directing the stores of Carrickfergus, Athlone, and Limerick to be removed to Dublin, from thence to be shipped to England. Changes were made in most of the important offices. The seals were taken suddenly from the Primate-Chancellor, and Sir Charles Porter was sent to take his place. Three Protestant judges were removed arbitrarily, no reason being assigned, and their places filled by Catholics, one of whom, Justice Daly, being described by the Viceroy as "perfect Irish, of the old race, very bigoted and national". In spite of Clarendon's protests, they were not only sworn into office without being required to take the oath of supremacy, but these, with some other Irish lawyers, were ordered to be admitted into the Irish Privy Council.

All these changes, and rumours of changes, filled the Protestants with alarm. Some of the Presbyterians of Ulster, wearied by the annoyances to which they were subjected, sold their effects and fled to New England. Others repaired to Scotland. Protestant merchants and traders began to abandon the country, and Clarendon wrote a word of warning to the King. "The King does not believe me," he said when he found his advice ignored. " Well, I have done my part. If the King finds his subjects here desert the country every week, as I am sure they do, perhaps I shall be believed then." The bonds of society seemed everywhere broken, and the fears of the populace were soon shared by the higher grades. The Earl of Granard was deprived of his regiment, and to appease any resentment that might be felt by one who possessed so much influence among the Presbyterians, he was offered the new office of President of the Council, a post he declined. The great body of Presbyterians, who regarded Granard as their protector, naturally saw in these proceedings a confirmation of their worst apprehensions, and their con- sternation was complete. The Presbyterians were not alone in their view of the situation. "All proceedings now look", said Clarendon, "as if the King's mind was altered, and as if he intended a total alteration. He consults only with the Irish whose interest is to break the Settlement. All power is in the hands of the conquered nation, and the English, who did conquer, are left naked, and deprived even of arms which by the patents of plantation they are obliged to have in readiness for the King's service."

In June, 1686, Tyrconnell returned to Ireland with plenary powers to carry out the King's designs in favour of the Catholics. He was given the entire control of the army, and he brought with him a number of military commissions by which many of the best Protestant officers were dismissed and Catholics substituted in their places. He was also commissioned to admit Roman Catholics to the freedom of corporations and the offices of sheriffs and justices of the peace. Clarendon had already, as directed, nominated Catholic sheriffs and magistrates, but the appointments did not satisfy Tyrconnell. "Moderate Catholics" he called "Trimmers"; as to the sheriffs he exclaimed, addressing himself to Clarendon: "By God!" ("being never likely to be near Him save in an oath") "the sheriffs you made are generally rogues. There has not been an honest sheriff in Ireland these twenty years", and he proceeded, assisted by Nugent, to draw up a list of sheriffs for the year following, which the Viceroy was obliged to accept. Thus the entire civil magistracy of Ireland passed into the hands of the Catholics.

Tyrconnell now proceeded to attack the Acts of Settlement, declaring that "these Acts of Settlement and this New Interest' are damned things!" and he again proceeded to London with the twofold object of persuading the King to repeal these Acts and of procuring the recall of the Protestant Lord- Lieutenant. With regard to the latter he succeeded beyond his hopes, for not alone was Clarendon recalled in February, 1687, but he was himself appointed his successor with the title of Lord Deputy.

Clarendon had been prepared for the announcement of Tyrconnell's appointment by many signs of approaching changes, although he was assured by the King in more than one letter that His Majesty was quite satisfied with his conduct of the government, at the same time remarking: "There is work to be done in Ireland which no Englishman will do". After the fall of Rochester, his brother, the Viceroy could no longer battle against adverse circumstances. The outlook was hopeless. "It is scarce possible", he wrote, "for any that have not been here to believe the profound ignorant bigotry the nation here are bred in by the priests, who, to all appearance, seem to be as ignorant as themselves. The generality of them do believe that this kingdom is the Pope's; that the King has no right further than the Pope gives him authority; and that it is lawful for them to call in any foreign power to help them against those who oppose the jurisdiction of the Church, as has evidently appeared by the late rebellion. And I do assure you the same principles which carried on that rebellion have been since carefully propagated, and are now too publicly owned. True, many Roman Catholics declare against these principles, and do detest them, even priests. But these two things are observable; first, that those who detest those principles, and will not allow the Pope to have so great an authority at this time when Roman Catholics are put into all employments, are scarce taken notice of, and upbraided with the names of Whigs and Trimmers; and the children of the most active in the rebellion, and those who set up the Pope's authority most, are in the employments; and secondly, notwithstanding the moderation of those Roman Catholics I mention, not one of them will suffer any of the others to be prosecuted for any offence they commit."

Clarendon having departed and Tyrconnell being sworn in, the next step was the seizure of the charters of cities and boroughs in order to remould the corporations according to the King's wishes. The Lord Deputy commenced with the city of Dublin, as the first and most important of the Irish corporations, and the one whose example would necessarily exercise a considerable influence over the rest. His autocratic demand met with firm resistance, but in the end the charter of Dublin was seized. The other corporations throughout Ireland met with the same fate. One only gave the Government much embarrassment, that of Carrickfergus, and it was only induced to surrender its charter by much persuasion.

While the Protestants in the south were not strong numerically, in Ulster they were in the majority. Two of the northern towns, Londonderry and Enniskillen, gained distinction by their early and determined resistance to the Government. Enniskillen, at that time a small town, was the only borough in the County Fermanagh, the ancient territory of the Maguires. It is situated on an island in the narrow part of Lough Erne. The city of Londonderry, on the western shore of Lough Foyle, and through it in communication with the sea, was surrounded by a wall strengthened with bastions, but with fortifications unequal to a land siege. It had been garrisoned with a regiment composed largely of Protestants under the command of that stanch Protestant, Lord Mountjoy, but the garrison was withdrawn by Tyrconnell to send troops to James, and he now (December, 1688) determined to regarrison the stronghold.

The Protestants in Ulster, having been alarmed by rumours (which proved to be ill-founded, or circulated by design) of a general massacre of all Protestants, to be begun on the 9th of December, commenced to consult together with a view to concerted action in self-defence. Numbers arose in counties Armagh, Donegal, Down, Monaghan, and Tyrone, under the leadership of such men as Lord Mount-Alexander, who was considered chief of the northern league, Lord Blaney, and Sir Arthur Rawdon. On the 1st of December, Enniskillen received orders from Dublin to provide for two companies of foot which were to be quartered upon them; and being in no mood to receive them, the inhabitants, recalling the fact that Chancellor Fitton had publicly remarked that among 40,000 Protestants there was not one who was not a traitor, a rebel, and a villain, determined to earn the titles thus bestowed upon them by a vigorous resistance to the order they had received. The gentlemen throughout Ulster armed their tenants as well as they were able, and reestablished their disbanded militia.

Tyrconnell, determined to secure the North, at once sent down a strong force, under the command of the Earl of Antrim, to disperse the various gatherings of the defence associations and garrison Londonderry. Antrim reached Newtown-Limavady on the 6th of December, where intelligence of the rumoured massacre had already been received, and the sudden appearance of the soldiers was therefore regarded with suspicion. Steps were immediately taken to warn Londonderry of their approach, and in an instant the whole city prepared to shut the gates against the proposed garrison. Tomkins, an alderman, and James Gordon, a Nonconformist minister, were in favour of immediate resistance, and summoned aid Mom all quarters for that purpose, Gordon himself rousing the public spirit by calling aloud in the streets for volunteers. Tomkins, meanwhile, with the caution characteristic of a city father, consulted a brother alderman named Norman, and, believing that there is wisdom in numbers, they together consulted the Bishop, Ezekiel Hopkins, who, being a man of peace, counselled caution, and, the magistrates being of the same opinion, preparations were made to receive the garrison.

"To do great things we must be young", said Goethe. It is to the youthful apprentices of Londonderry that the city owes the foundations of her fame. Thirteen of these youths, William Cairns, Henry Campsie, Alexander and John Coningham, Samuel Harvey, Samuel Hunt, William Crookshanks, Alexander Irwin, Robert Morrison, Daniel and Robert Sherrard, James Spike, and James Stewart, who appear, from their names, to have been of Scottish birth or descent, at the critical moment (7th December, 1689) when Antrim's men were already at the gates, having armed themselves and seized the keys of the city, flew to the Ferry Gate, and, closing it in the faces of the King's men, let down the portcullis. They then closed the three other gates of the city, placing guards at each. The celerity and spirit with which these movements were conducted spread like wildfire through the city, the daring action of the young men kindling the enthusiasm of their elders until there glowed in every breast a desire to maintain at all hazards, and against all odds, the freedom and integrity of Derry. In vain the Bishop expostulated and exhorted the citizens to obey the Lord's Anointed. He was interrupted by the exclamation: "A good sermon, my Lord, a very good sermon; but we have not time to hear it just now!" Futile the efforts of the deputy-mayor and sheriffs to secure submission to the orders from the Lord -Lieutenant, neither persuasion nor threat proved powerful enough to change the minds of the citizens. The magazines were opened, muskets and gunpowder were duly distributed, and sentinels posted on the ramparts. One of the citizens James Morison mounting the wall and addressing Antrim's men bade them depart without delay. They hesitated, but on Morison's calling aloud in their hearing for a cannon to be trained on them they forthwith retreated out of range. This was a repulse on which they had not reckoned.

So far the citizens had acted on the initiative of the apprentices and in the teeth of spiritual as well as magisterial warning and advice. The Bishop's armoury had consisted chiefly of

Threatenings out of Peter or of Paul
And some strange cursings from Leviticus.

The magistrates and sheriffs had warned them of more palpable punishment for their misdeeds. But both alike were unavailing; the contagion spread, and a leader soon appeared. In the afternoon of this fateful day, David Cairnes, a Protestant resident in the neighbourhood, on hearing the news, entered Londonderry to encourage the citizens, whose conduct he publicly applauded. Alderman Norman, with several others who had held back, now joined the movement. A meeting was held at the guard- house, at which it was resolved to communicate with the principal gentry of the surrounding district, requesting their co-operation. This summons was met by a speedy response, for within forty-eight hours hundreds of foot and horse arrived, and, Deny being fortified as speedily as was possible under the circumstances, unanimously declared for a resolute defence.


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