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The History of Ulster
Londonderry and Enniskillen Revolt


The Earl of Antrim and George Phillips of Limavady repair to Londonderry - Phillips admitted to the City - He joins the Movement - Antrim retires to Coleraine - Phillips elected Governor of Londonderry, raises Troops for the Defence of the City - Enniskillen follows the example of Londonderry and prepares to take the Offensive - A Bloodless Victory - Gustavus Hamilton appointed Governor - Lord Mountjoy and Lundy sent to Londonderry - Terms arrived at - Mountjoy, Governor - He assists the Citizens - Tyrconnell recalls him - He leaves Lundy in Command - The Declaration of County Antrim.

Although Antrim's men were repulsed at the gates of Londonderry, Antrim himself was at Limavady, where, on the night of the 8th December, he reposed in the residence of George Phillips, a descendant of Sir Thomas Phillips of Limavady Castle. On the morning of the 9th he invited his host to accompany him in his coach to Londonderry. On nearing the city Antrim was surprised to meet his men retreating, and was given a grossly exaggerated account of the bellicose attitude of the citizens. Antrim, a very degenerate descendant of Sorley Boy, proposed that Phillips (a very old man) should go forward alone and ascertain the truth of affairs, which Phillips accordingly did. He found the city gates closed, and, although he had been the first to warn the citizens of approaching danger, he found some difficulty, on account of his being an envoy from Antrim, in gaining admittance. On finding the citizens armed and prepared to defend the city under the direction of David Cairnes, who acted as governor, Phillips at once approved of what had been done, and agreed to join them ; but in order to protect those in Limavady, who, on a premature alarm, might lie at the mercy of Antrim's soldiers, he suggested that he should be detained by force and Antrim be advised of the fact. This plan was accordingly acted upon, Phillips writing to Antrim telling his lordship that he was a prisoner, and advising him to give up the attempt to force a garrison upon Londonderry. Phillips of Newtown-Limavady was then elected governor of Londonderry, and Cairnes was sent to England to report the state of affairs to the great London companies who had an interest in the city. Antrim, not wishing to commence a civil war, retired on Coleraine; and on his departure Phillips repaired to Limavady and raised for the defence of Londonderry a body of three or four hundred horse, an action in which he had the active co-operation of many gentlemen in the neighbourhood, who greatly augmented in various ways the forces thus raised.

Enniskillen, encouraged by the example of Londonderry, also maintained her attitude of defiance. On Thursday, the 13th of December, news arrived that the two companies to be quartered on her were on the march, and next day that they had reached Clones. On Saturday, the i5th, the soldiers were at Maguire's Bridge, and on Sunday morning at ten o'clock, while the Enniskillen men were at church, their devotions were disturbed by the intelligence that the two companies, with numerous camp-followers and other stragglers, were but four miles distant, at the village of Lismella. The Protestants of Enniskillen rushed out of church, armed in haste, and prepared to maintain by force their refusal to admit the soldiers sent by Tyrconnell to be quartered upon them.

The activities of the previous few days had not found the Inniskillings idle. When the first intimation of Tyrconnell's intentions reached them, their means of defence were meagre. Not ten pounds of powder were in their possession, not a score of firearms fit for use. But petitions for aid in the coming struggle addressed to the neighbouring gentry were speedily answered. In a few hours 200 foot and 150 horse had assembled, and with this force the Inniskillings decided to march out to meet the force they had determined to repel. At the same time Gustavus Hamilton, later Lord Boyne, one of the leading men of the county, drew up with 100 horse about a mile from the town, and stood ready to give assistance if required. The officers of the companies, however, were surprised to find resistance where they had expected none. They had distributed among the peasantry arms with which they had been provided for the purpose, and the rustics had gleefully accompanied them on their march; but when they saw advancing towards them a large body of mounted gentlemen and yeomen, the peasantry took to their heels, and the companies retreated in such hot haste that it partook of the nature of flight, no halt being called until they reached Maguire's Bridge, from which on the day following they continued their retreat to Cavan.

Elated by this easy victory, the Inniskillings now proceeded to make arrangements for the government and defence of the town and surrounding country. They appointed as their governor Gustavus Hamilton, who, having served in the army, and having, in modern parlance, a stake in the country, was well fitted for the position, which he accepted all the more readily because he had recently been deprived of his commission by Tyrconnell. He accordingly took up his residence in the castle. All the country houses round Lough Erne were turned into forts garrisoned by trusted men armed with swords and pikes, and their improvised armoury included dangerous weapons made by fixing scythes on poles. A pact was also arranged with Londonderry whereby the support of that city was secured.

Tyrconnell, surprised and enraged by the unexpected resistance of Enniskillen and Londonderry, prepared to wreak his vengeance on those who had dared to oppose his will, and no doubt the Viceroy's anger might have had dire results had he not been suddenly faced by danger in another quarter. Tidings had arrived that William, Prince of Orange, was marching unopposed on London. All England had declared for the Prince, and fortune appeared to be in his favour. With such a prospect, to create fresh enemies in Ireland would be madness; and the Lord Deputy, recognizing this fact, entrusted to the Master of Ordnance, William Stewart, Lord Mountjoy, who had recently been in command of the garrison at Londonderry, the task of pacifying the citizens, to whom his ultra-Protestantism Tyrconnell considered would appeal. Mountjoy at once set out for Londonderry with a regiment of which he was colonel, in which an English and Episcopalian element preponderated, but which also included a number of Roman Catholics. When Lord Mountjoy and Robert Lundy, his lieutenant, reached Armagh, a message was sent to Londonderry requesting that representatives of the city should be sent to Raphoe, so that terms as to the admission of the regiment to Londonderry might be arrived at. The citizens, who welcomed the advent of Mountjoy personally, at once complied, and several conferences took place, at the earlier of which a crux was caused by the representatives of Londonderry refusing to admit into the city those of Mountjoy's regiment who were not Protestants. No compromise was effected; the citizens triumphed and dictated their own terms, which were that a free and general pardon should be granted within fifteen days; that two companies only, composed exclusively of Protestants, should be admitted at first, and that should further companies be admitted later, at least one-half should be Protestants also; that until the receipt of the pardon the guards and watches of the city should remain in the hands of the citizens; that if at any time prior to the 1st of March following Lord Mountjoy's regiment should be removed from Londonderry, he should restore the guards and watches to the custody of the citizens; and that each and all of the inhabitants should be free to remain or depart at will; finally, that no soldier of Lord Antrim should be quartered in Londonderry or its vicinity.

No sooner were these terms agreed to than Mountjoy dispatched Colonel Lundy to Strabane to countermand the advance of four companies composed of Roman Catholics who were quartered there and at Newtown Stewart, until they had been re-formed according to the terms just agreed upon. Phillips resigned the governorship of Londonderry in favour of Mountjoy, who now joined issue with the citizens and assisted them in fortifying the city. The gun-carriages were repaired and the armoury replenished, and, with money subscribed by the citizens, powder and ammunition were procured from Scotland. Messengers were also sent to England to instruct Cairnes to procure further supplies from the great London companies.

The Lord Deputy, being informed of Mountjoy's changed front, at once recalled him ; but before he left for Dublin he was waited on by a deputation of gentlemen from Enniskillen, who requested to be favoured in the same way as Londonderry had been. Mountjoy, however, had no time to give any aid save advice ; and as he had not the same knowledge of Enniskillen as he had of Londonderry, and had therefore, in view of his recall, to be cautious, he is reported to have said to the members of the deputation: "My advice to you is to submit to the King's authority." "What, my Lord," said one of the deputies, "are we to sit still and let ourselves be butchered?" "The King," said Mountjoy, "will protect you." "If all we hear be true," said the deputy, "His Majesty will find it hard enough to protect himself." With this unsatisfactory result the interview ended. Enniskillen kept up its attitude of defiance. Mountjoy repaired to Dublin, and was sent with Lord Chief Baron Rice to Paris on a mission which had no other result than that Mountjoy found himself in the Bastille, while Rice, who was a Roman Catholic, remained at liberty. By this time it had indeed become evident that James could not protect himself. It was known in Ireland that he had fled; had been frustrated in his flight; that he had fled again; that the Prince of Orange had reached Westminster in triumph, and had taken on himself the administration of affairs.

Londonderry, left under the command of Lundy, who assumed the title of Governor, was in the hands of one in whom, luckily, the citizens placed little confidence; nevertheless, he succeeded in gaining admission for the remaining four companies of which he had formerly had command. These, however, had been so "well purged of Papists" that little or no objection was made to their entry, the citizens having already formed six companies of volunteers from both within and without the city, commanded by officers who, on account of their profession of Protestantism, had been deprived of their commissions by Tyrconnell.

Movements in the North became now so rapid and so threatening that a proclamation was issued in Dublin, with special reference to Ulster, whereby Protestants were forbidden to assemble in troops and companies; but the order had no effect, for Ulstermen were convinced that their only hope of safety consisted in standing upon their own defence. Early in January, 1689, they began to stir themselves, encouraged by the activity of Sir Arthur Rawdon of Moira, who, with other leading Protestants in Ulster, formed a bold design to disarm the garrisons of Belfast and Lisburn and surprise Carrickfergus. The attempt, however, was not successful. Associations were formed for self-defence, and great activity was displayed in the raising of troops and garrisoning of towns. The declarations issued by these associations are interesting as evidence of the spirit which animated the various bodies which subscribed to them, and that of the Association of Antrim may here be given, as exhibiting the principles which the members professed.

"It being notoriously known," the document states, "not only to the Protestant inhabitants of the northern counties, but to those throughout this whole kingdom of Ireland, that the peace and quiet of this nation is now in great and imminent danger; and that it is absolutely necessary for all Protestants to agree within their several counties upon some speedy and effectual methods for their own defence, and for securing (as much as in them lies) the Protestant religion, their lives, liberties, and properties, and the peace of this kingdom which are so much endeavoured to be disturbed by Popish and illegal counsellors and their abettors. And inasmuch as union and dispatch are necessary for effecting the same, we the nobility and gentry of the county of Antrim do associate together, firmly resolving to adhere to the laws of this kingdom and the Protestant religion, and to act in subordination to the government of England and the promoting of a free Parliament.

"And we do declare, if we be forced to take up arms, as it will be contrary to our inclination, so it shall be only defensive, not in the least to invade the lives, liberties, or estates of any of our fellow subjects, no not of the Popish persuasion, whilst they demean themselves peaceably with us. The reasons which induce us to put ourselves in some necessary posture of defence, are so obvious and urgent upon us, when we consider of the great levies daily made of Popish soldiers, and at this time especially when the King is retired, and their arming can in no wise be serviceable to His Majesty's interest; it were inconsistent with common prudence, not to suspect their designs to be such as will tend, if not to the destruction, yet to the great endangering of the lives, liberties, and properties of the Protestant subjects of this kingdom, if not prevented.

"And we do declare, though at present we will admit none but Protestants into our Association, yet we will to our power protect even Papists from violence, whilst their behaviour amongst us is peaceable and quiet. And we doubt not but all good Protestants in this kingdom will in their several stations join with us in the same public defence; and that God will bless these our just, innocent, and necessary undertakings, for our lives, laws, and religion.

"And whereas it will be necessary for the more effectual and successful carrying on these mutual endeavours for the preservation of our religion and properties, and to avoid confusion and distraction, which in such cases may otherwise happen, to appoint some eminent person or persons to whose conduct we may entirely submit ourselves in this our undertaking; we do therefore by these presents unanimously elect and appoint the Right Honourable Hugh Earl of Mount Alexander and the Honourable Clotworthy Skeffington, Esquire, or either of them, jointly or severally, as they shall think fit, to be our commander or commanders-in-chief of all the forces in the said county of Antrim ; and do hereby oblige ourselves to serve under their or either of their commands, in such manner, place, and station, as they or one of them in their discretion and judgment shall direct; and that we will from time to time observe and obey all such orders and methods for the better carrying on this enterprize, and procuring of horse and foot, and such numbers of men, arms, and ammunition, as our county council of five shall think fit, and that with all expedition, immediately to be arrayed and formed into troops and companies, and to be disposed of from time to time according to their or either of their orders, they or one of them acting with the advice and consent of the said county council of five, or the major part thereof."

The movement thus inaugurated in Ulster extended to other parts of the country, but this Declaration of Antrim was one of the very first made.


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