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The History of Ulster
The New Life


Ulster at rest—The Arrival of Balldearg O'Donnell—The Ulster Militia march to assist in the Reduction of Sligo — Balldearg O'Donnell joins the Forces of William in Flanders — Proclamation of Peace—Cost of the War— Viscount Sidney appointed Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland—The Irish Parliament of 1692 — Its Independence—Dissolved September, 1693—The Ownership of Land — Its Chaotic State—Establishment of a Court of Claims — William's Grants of Forfeited Estates—Sidney recalled—Capel appointed Lord Deputy.

Ulster with the relief of Londonderry and the victory of the Boyne brought to a close her "crowded hour of glorious life". The most sanguine lover of heroic deeds could scarcely expect a never-ending succession of them. Ulster had fulfilled herself, and had proved that she could greatly dare and conquer, and now, having won freedom, she could very gladly rest. Her record for over a hundred years from this date does not, from the point of view of those who look for "moving accidents" or blood-curdling episodes, rise above the level of "an Old Bailey story". It must not be supposed, however, that she was supinely lethargic. Ulster remained active in all that could conduce to the welfare and advancement of her people. She did not become debased by the freedom she had won. Retrogression remained to her an unknown term. But she took life less strenuously, and by a well-earned period of rest recuperated, and recovered the strength lost in the time of storm and stress through which she had passed.

To the student of history this period is unproductive. It is dull, stale, flat, and unprofitable, conveying no gospel of glad movement to the mind. Ulster now resembles a vast area in which great deeds had been done, but which was now given over to commonplace pursuits:

There tiny pleasures occupy the place
Of glories and of duties, as the feet
Of fabled fairies, when the sun goes down,
Trip o'er the grass where wrestlers strove by day.

But, unheroic as the time must appear, it was indicative of the introduction of law and order into Ulster, and that the province was slowly but surely becoming "a land of settled government".

Shortly after the Battle of the Boyne there arrived from Spain a remarkable man named Balldearg O'Donnell, who claimed to be a lineal descendant of the ancient chiefs of Tirconnel. He also claimed to be the O'Donnell "with a red mark" (ball dearg) who, according to ancient prophecy, was destined to lead his followers to victory. Of his descent there is little doubt, for that great authority Dr. O'Donovan, in his pedigree of the O'Donnells, states that Hugh, son of Hugh Boy, son of Calvagh, an uncle of Roderick O'Donnell, first Earl of Tirconnel, and of the famous Hugh Roe, was styled Earl of Tirconnel on the Continent, and "was indubitably the very man called Balldearg O'Donnell, who came from Spain to command the Irish in the war of James II". That he appeared in fulfilment of prophecy is, however, another matter; but nevertheless his claim appears to have gained wide credence and his advent excited great enthusiasm, especially among the humbler classes. Men flocked in thousands to his standard; he set up as a kind of independent commander and soon had enrolled under him an irregular force of eight regiments, which he supported by levying heavy contributions wherever he went. The Duke of Tyrconnell, who on account of the clash of claims for the title entertained a strong aversion to him, deprived Balldearg of three regiments of his best men under pretence of incorporating them with the regular army, and made no provision for the support of his remaining battalions.

It was now September, 1691. William's campaign in the south had been carried on with vigour. The King himself, twelve months earlier, having raised the siege of Limerick, had left Ireland, leaving the command of the army to Count de Solmes, who later was succeeded by Ginkell. The civil government of the country had been entrusted to Lord Sidney, Sir Charles Porter, and Thomas Coningsby. On William's departure Marlborough had arrived with fresh troops, and Cork and Kinsale had been reduced, and Athlone taken; the Battle of Aughrim had resulted in the death of St. Ruth and the defeat of the Jacobites; Galway also had been captured.

During these events the militia on one side and the rapparees on the other were not idle. The Dublin militia joined 800 of the Ulster militia and marched to assist in the reduction of Sligo, the only place of any importance, except Limerick, now in the hands of the Jacobites. They were joined on the 9th of September, at Abbey Boyle, by Balldearg O'Donnell, who, having been thwarted in every way by the Duke of Tyrconnell, now joined the standard of William with about 1200 Irish. These being placed under the command of Lord Granard, after taking Ballymote, marched laboriously over the Curlieu Mountains, and sat down before Sligo. The garrison surrendered on the 16th September, 1691, on condition of being conveyed to Limerick. Balldearg later entered William's service in Flanders, with those of his men whom he could induce to follow him, and he received during the remainder of his life a pension of £500 a year. With the capitulation of Limerick in the beginning of October the last serious resistance to William in Ireland came to an end.

On the 23rd of March, 1692, a proclamation, signed by the King on the 3rd of the same month, was published in Dublin, by which it was announced that the kingdom of Ireland was now reduced to obedience, and that the war and rebellion were at an end. Thus closed a struggle which had cost a greater expenditure of blood and money than any former war in Ireland. The only approximate calculation of the loss to both sides appears to be that given by Story, founded upon facts within his own knowledge, and which appears to be rather under-estimated than otherwise. He reckons the pay of the army under Schomberg in 1689, with the Londonderry and Enniskillen troops then taken into pay, at £869,410, 7s. 6d. The pay of the King's army in 1690 he estimates at £1,287,630, 2s. That of the army under Ginkell, in 1691, he estimates at £1,161,830, 12s. 10d. The pay of the general officers, which is not included in the estimate just given, with the train, bread, wagons, transports, and other contingencies, he reckons at as much more, making thus a total of £6,637,742, 4s. 8d. "And the Irish [Jacobite] army," he adds, "living for the most part upon the product of the country, could not cost much less; besides the further destruction of the Protestant interest in that kingdom, by cutting down improvements, burning of houses, destroying of sheep and cattle, taking away of horses, with infinite other extortions and robberies, as also the loss of people on both sides, most of which, however disaffected, yet they were subjects to the crown of England."

Story's estimate as to the losses on either side is interesting. "As to the particulars of our and their losses of people in both armies since the landing of Schomberg in Ireland," he says, "the best computation I have been able to make by comparing accounts, and conferring on both sides with those that have made some observations on that matter, the thing runs thus: Irish officers killed, 617. Soldiers killed, belonging to the Irish [Jacobite] army, 12,676. Rapparees killed by the army and militia,

1928. Rapparees hanged by legal process or court martial, 112. Rapparees killed and hanged by soldiers and others, without any ceremony, 600. Officers killed in the English army, 140. Soldiers killed in the field, 2037. Murdered privately, by the rapparees, that we have no account where they died, 800. English and foreign officers died during the three campaigns, 320. Soldiers dead in the English army since our landing in Ireland, 7000. Though it is to be observed that in the two last campaigns there died very few, except recruits, and such as died of their wounds. Nor are we to believe that the Irish did not lose a great many by sickness also, but no doubt the destruction of the people in the country would be more than double all these numbers, so that by the sword, famine, and all other accidents, there has perished, since first the Irish began to play their mad pranks, there have died, I say, in that kingdom, of one sort and another, at least 100,000, young and old, besides treble the number that are ruined and undone."

"All of which being considered," says Story, "it is certainly most expedient to find out an eternal remedy, that the like may never happen again. And this I humbly suppose, must not be any endeavour to root out and destroy the Irish, but in the advancing the English interest both in church and state, in that kingdom, so as to make the Irish themselves in love with it." Such were the sentiments expressed on the condition of Ireland, at a moment when much of the best part of the native population was rushing into exile.

On the conclusion of the war the temporary government of the Lords Justices was superseded, and Henry Sidney, now Viscount Sidney, who had been appointed Viceroy in the spring, arrived to take up office on the 25th of August, 1692. It was understood that one of his first measures should be the calling of an Irish Parliament, and the writs were issued for the 5th of October. The question of the independence of the Irish Parliament at once excited a lively interest, the feeling on the subject running so high that a Bill sent from England for imposing certain duties was rejected by the Commons, without any ground for the rejection being assigned save that "the said Bill had not its rise in this House". This Resolution was passed on the 28th of October, and on the 3rd of November the Lord-Lieutenant attended, and unexpectedly and suddenly prorogued Parliament, pronouncing at the same time a severe rebuke, and ordering the clerk to enter his protest against the resolution of the Commons on the journal of the House, in vindication of the prerogative of the Crown. The Parliament never met again for business; after two prorogations, it was dissolved on the 5th of September, 1693.

During the war the Acts of James's Parliament which repealed the Acts of Settlement and Explanation had been to some extent acted upon, and some of the original proprietors who had been dispossessed recovered their former estates. This added to the confusion already existing, so that the ownership of landed property in Ireland immediately after the settling down of affairs at the end of the war was in a chaotic state. To remedy this condition of things a Court of Claims was established, various commissions of enquiry were appointed, and writs issued out of the Courts of Chancery and Exchequer. Upon these writs inquisitions were found and returned certifying the attainder of divers persons, and consequently the right and title of the Crown to a large extent of described territory. It was calculated that about 4000 resident and 57 absentee owners of property had rendered themselves liable to forfeiture of their lands, amounting to over 1,100,000 plantation acres. Of the lands thus forfeited about a fourth had been restored to the ancient proprietors in conformity with the civil articles of the Treaty of Limerick, and about one-seventh of the remaining three-fourths had been given back to unhappy families, who, though they could not plead the letter of the Treaty, had been considered fit objects of clemency. The rest was bestowed by the King partly on persons whose services merited all, and possibly more than all, that they had obtained, but chiefly on His Majesty's personal friends. Among the recipients of William's bounty were: Bentinck, afterwards Lord Portland, who received 130,000 acres; Henry de Ruvigny, created Earl of Galway, 40,000 acres; Van Keppel, created Lord Albemarle, 100,000 acres; Viscount Sidney, afterwards Earl of Romney, 50,000 acres; and on Elizabeth Villiers, whose husband, George Hamilton, was created Earl of Orkney, the King bestowed the whole of the great estate of the Duke of York (James II).

In the English Parliament on the 24th of February, 1693, there was a warm debate upon Irish affairs, and an address to the King was voted, complaining of great abuses and mismanagement in the affairs of the country, such as the recruiting of the King's troops with "Papists, to the great endangering and discouraging of the good and loyal Protestant subjects in that kingdom"; the "granting protections to Irish Papists", "whereby Protestants are hindered from the legal remedies, and the course of law stopt". The letting of the forfeited estates at under rates; the enormous embezzlements of the forfeited estates and goods; but, above all, the Parliament complained of an addition which they said was made to the Articles of Limerick after the town was surrendered, "to the very great encouragement of the Irish Papists", which addition, as well as the Articles, they prayed might be laid before the House; and they also besought His Majesty that no grant might be made of the forfeited estates in Ireland until an opportunity was afforded of settling the matter in Parliament.

The King was annoyed at this interference of the English Commons. He replied in general terms: "I shall always have great consideration of what comes from the House of Commons; and I shall take great care that what is amiss shall be remedied".

In the hope of appeasing the clamour in Ireland, where Viscount Sidney became more and more unpopular, William recalled that nobleman early in July, 1693, and entrusted the government of the country to three Lords Justices, Lord Capel, Sir Cyril Wych, and William Duncombe. It was soon found this triumvirate worked unsatisfactorily, for, while the two latter wished to distribute justice with an even hand, Capel took every opportunity to infringe the Articles of Limerick,1 and curtail the rights of the native population. Wych and Duncombe, for their impartiality, were stigmatized as Tories and Jacobites, and Capel soon obtained the sole government as Lord Deputy.

1 Whereby Roman Catholics were allowed to enjoy "such privileges, in the exercise of their religion, as they did enjoy in the reign of King Charles II".


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