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by their own laws, customs, and constitutions. * It requires but moderate attention to the records of these times, to learn what degree of real power Henry had acquired in Ireland, and less skill in politics, to ascertain the rights he attempted to exercise over the English adventurers, or the native Irish in his fæderal transactions with each, whether we consider the grounds of his invasion, the nature and extent of their submissions, or the purport of his stipulations.
It was the ill fated policy of the English government of that day, not only not to coalesce and unite with the native Irish, but to go every possible length in fomenting and perpetuating dissension, animosity, and hatred between the two nations. “ Hence it is,” says sir John Davies, than whose there cannot be better authority upon this point, “ that in all the parliament rolls which are extant from the 40th year of Edward III. when the statutes of Kilkenny were enacted, to the reign of King Henry VIII. we find the degenerate and disobedient English called Rebels ; but the Irish, which were not in the king's peace, are called Enemies. Statute of Kilkenny, c. 1, 10, and 11. 11 Hen. IV. c. 24. 10 Hen. VI. c. 1, 18. 18 Hen, VI. c. 4. 5 Edw. IV. c. 6. 10 Hen. VIII. C. 17. All these statutes speak of English Rebels, and Irish Enemies ; as if the Irish had never been in the condition of subjects, but always out of the protection of the laws, and were indeed in a worse case than aliens of any foreign realm, that was in amity with the crown of England. For by divers heavy penal laws, the English were forbidden to marry, to foster, to make gossippes with the Irish ; or to have any trade or commerce in their markets and fairs. Nay, there was a law made no longer since than the 28th Hen. VIII. that the English should not marry with any person of Irish 'blood, though he had gotten a charter of denization, unless he had done both homage and fealty to the King in the Chancery, and were also bounden by recognizance in sureties to continue a loyal subject. Whereby it is manifest, that such as had the government of Ireland under the crown of England did intend to make a perpetual separation of enmity between the English and the Irish." So far Sir John Davies up to his time ; and
* There are early documents to prove that the very power which had as. sumed the right of commanding the Irish to receive Henry, and bonourably reverence bim as their Lord, considered in fact his power confined to the Pale. For by the commission of the Pope's legate in the time of Richard the First, whereby he had power to exercise his legatine authority, we find it eonfined to certain limits, viz. in Anglia, Wallia, ac illis Hiberniæ partibus, in quibus 70bannes Moretonii Comes potestatem babet et dominium. Mat. Par. fo. 1519.... Henry II. gave the lordship or sovereignty of Ireland to his son John, created Earl of Moreton, and afterwards King. There are strong differences amongst historians concerning the nature of this grant. Richard was too much engaged in other pursuits to question it. And upon John's accession to the throne, all the rights of Henry concentred in him as King of England.
would it could be truly added, that this system had never been kept up since that period; the union necessarily prevents it in future.
The same author, who was an Englishman, a servant of the crown, and a man well versed in the laws and constitution of England, gives further evidence of that pernicious principle of narrow, crooked, self-interested policy, acted upon by the servants of the crown in Ireland, in defiance of the more generous and liberal sentiments that prevailed on this side of the channel. In order to let in the full effect of his evidence, he first clears away the only objection that possibly could be raised against the Irish. Perhaps, says he, the Irishry in former times did wilfully refuse to be subject to the laws of England, and would not be partakers of the benefit thereof, though the crown of England did desire it; and therefore they were reputed Aliens, Outlawes, and Enemies. But the contrary was manifest, not only from the number of charters of denization purchased by individuals, but by the general petition preferred by the Irish to King Edward III. for a general naturalization act, in order to supersede the necessity of further letters of denization. The King was for it; but the baneful policy of the Irish government opposed it: this prince, like many of his successors, gave too easy credit to his distant servants, whose interest it was to deceive him. He satisfied his own conscience, by publicly referring the matter to his Irish counsellors, who, as Sir John Davies collects, advised the King, that the Irishry might not be naturalized without damage or prejudice either to themselves or to the crown. This feature in the Irish history particularly commands our notice: its singularity must furnish each reader with his own observations. Here was the voice of the Irish nation conveyed in respectful terms to the throne of England, praying for an union of laws and constitution, referred to an Irish parliament, and by them rejected.* Hinc illæ lachrymæ! Upon this, says Leland, " the resentment of the Irish, naturally violent, and now too “justly provoked, broke out in an insurrection, projected with "greater concert, and executed with more violence, than for “ some time had been experienced.”
The reflections of Sir John Davies upon this state of the Irish, made about 200 years ago, may be thought by some to depict the fatal policy of the English government towards Ireland with more faithful impartiality, than a modern writer would receive credit for. “ This then I note as a great defect in the civil
• The authors of the Universal History say, that this application from the Irish was backed by an offer of 8000 marks to Ufford, then chief governor, for the king's use ; and they observe, that “their desire was fatally counteracted * by those, wbose duty it was to promote a measure so well calculated for the be"nefit of their country.”
policy of this kingdom, in that for the space of 350 years at “ least after the conquest first attempted, the English lawes were
not communicated to the Irish, nor the benefit and protection “ thereof allowed unto them, though they earnestly desired and “ sought the same.
For as long as they were out of the protec6 tion of the lawe, so as every Englishman might oppresse,
spoyle, and kill them without controulment, howe was it pos“sible they shoulde bee other then outlawes and enemies to the “ crowne of England. If the King woulde not admit them to " the condition of subjects, how could they learn to acknow“ ledge and obey him as their Soveraigne? When they might " not converse or commerce with any civill men, nor enter into “ anie towne or citty without perill of their lives, whither should
they flie but into the woods and mountains, and there live in
a wilde and barbarous manner? If the English magistrates “ would not rule them by the law, which doth punish treason
and murder and theft by death: but leave them to be ruled " by their own lords and lawes, why should they not embrace " their own Brehon law, which punisheth no offence, but with a s fine or erich? If the Irish bee not permitted to purchase estates " of freehold or inheritance, which might descend to their chil“dren according to the course of our common lawe, must they
not continue their old custom of tanistrie, which makes all " their possessions uncertayne, and brings confusion, barbarism, " and incivilitie? In a word, if the Englishe woulde neither in
peace govern them by lawe, nor could in warre roote them out by the sword, must they not needes bee prickes in their
eyes, 66 and thornes in their sides till the worlde's end ?"
This blind infatuation of the English government in their conduct towards Ireland, is wholly unaccountable. For although they had not full possession of one third of the island, they cantonized the whole country amongst ten English families, and called themselves owners and lords of all. Nothing was left to be granted to or enjoyed by the natives: nor is there a record for the space of 300 years and upwards after the invasion, of any grant made to an Irish lord of any land, except a grant from the crown to the king of Thomond, of his land during the minority of Henry III. and the beforementioned grant, or rather treaty with the king of Connaught. These English grantees became a new set of petty sovereigns to the irreparable damage of the country. And Sir John Davies assures us, that our great English lords could not endure that any kings should reign in Ireland but themselves : nay they could hardly endure that the crown of England itself should have any jurisdiction over them. They exercised all manner of royal jurisdiction and authority within their petty kingdoms more arbitrarily than any English
monarch did over the kingdom.* No wonder then that this new race of English kings in Ireland should, as Sir John Davies further observes, oppose and resist every attempt of the English cabinet to admit the Irish into a full participation of our laws and constitution. For by these grants of whole provinces and petty kingdoms, these few English lords pretended to be the proprietors of all the lands; so that there was no possibility of setding the natives in any of their possessions, and consequently the conquest of the whole country became an absolute impossibility, otherwise, than by the utter extirpation of the whole native race of the Irish; which they were in fact unable, and probably from interested motives unwilling to do. The Irish, who inhabited the lands that were fully conquered and reduced, were in the condition of slaves and villeins, and thereby they rendered more profit to their lords, than if they had been free subjects of the king: and as these oppressive and rapacious sovereigns flattered themselves with the pleasing prospect of realizing their several grants to their full nominal extent, they looked eagerly to this profitable extension of vassalage and slavery, which would not take place if those out of the pale were once received into the king's protection and made liege men and free subjects. Thus early were the peace, welfare, and prosperity of the Irish nation sacrificed to the corrupt influence and interests of some few men in power.
The same author, than whom no man ever studied more the reciprocal interests of England and Ireland, tells us plainly, that this handful of monopolizers of the whole power and profit of the nation opposed its union with England, because that “woulde “have abridged and cut off a great part of that greatness which
they had promised unto themselves: they perswaded the king “ of England, that it was unfit to communicate the lawes of Ena "gland unto them; that it was the best policie to hold them as “ aliens and enemies, and to prosecute them with a continual
warre. Hereby they obtained another royal prerogative and power; which was to make warre and peace at their pleasure
in every part of the kingdome; which gave them an absolute “ command over the bodies, lands, and goods of the English “subjects heere. The troth is, that those great English lords “ did to the uttermost of their power, crosse and withstand the “enfranchizement of the Irish, for the causes before expressed, “ wherein I must still cleare and acquit the crown and state of “ England of negligence or ill policy:
So deeply rooted in the Irish nation was the spirit of irritation and resentment, that no public calamities, oppressions, or
* The complaints of the abuses of these English settlers were emphatically compressed into this strong expression : ipsis Hybernis Hyberniores.
misfortunes could prevent their chieftains, lords, or petty sovereigns from continual feuds and wars with each other. This national misfortune was highly aggravated by the erection of these English sovereignties: for the same author informs us, that “the power to make warre and peace did raise the English ","des to that height of pride and ambition, as that they could “ not endure each other, but grew to a mortal warre and dissen“tion amongst themselves, as appeareth by all the records and u stories of this kingdome.”
Not only the general state policy of England was misdirected and abused by the servants of the crown in Ireland, in order to encrease and perpetuate disunion and hatred between the two nations; but the very sources of justice and legislation were poisoned and corrupted to the same intent. We have the testi. mony of Sir John Davies supported by several records of undoubted authority:* “ That the Irish generally were held and “reputed aliens or rather enemies to the crowne of England; “ insomuch as they were not only disabled to bring anie actions, " but they were so farre out of the protection of the lawe, as it «
was often adjudged no felony to kill a mere Irishman in the " time of peace.” By the 4th chapter of the statutes made at Trim, 25 Hen. VI. (A. D. 1447) it was enacted, that if any were found with their upper lips unshaven by the space of a fortnight, it was the Irish fashion to wear the beard on the upper lip) it should be lawful for any man to take them and their goods as Irish enemies, and to ransom them as Irish enemies. Another very singular statute was passed, to commit the punishment of offenders to every private liegeman of the king, without any reference to trial by judge or jury (28 Hen. VI. C. iii. A. D. 1450). It must have sorely aggrieved the Irish, when rewards were put upon their heads at the mere private surmise, suspicion, or personal resentment of any Englishman : for it was thereby enacted, that it should be lawful to every liegeman of our sovereign lord the king, all manner of notorious and known thieves, and thieves found robbing, &c. (which might not be so unreasonable as to murder by suspicion or reputation) to kill and take them without impeachment, arraignment, or grievance to him to be done by our sovereign lord the king, his justices, officers or any of his ministers for any such manslaughter or taking: and that every man should be rewarded for such killing or taking by one penny of every plough, and one farthing of every cottage within the barony where the manslaughter was done.
This inhuman encouragement to murder was further encreased by larger rewards given to those who should execute summary justice by their own fallible or corrupt judginents upon persons going to rob and steal, or coming from rob
• Dav. Disc, 102 & seq.