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of this bribe depends on the extent of the depredation. They agree to share among them the spoils; which are divided into five parts, four of which fall to the share of the king and deputy,– the master plunderers ; and the fifth to their agents and accomplices, the judges. And yet this king is by bigoted royalists reverenced as an English Marcus Aurelius, the exemplar of every royal virtue!
But the hardened and iniquitous Wentworth was not satisfied with corrupting the judges. He paid equal attention to the jurors, of whom he sought out two kinds ;-one poor and needy, who might easily be bribed, “ fit men to serve on juries, who would give furtherance to the king's title ;11426 and the other very wealthy, whom he might plunder, by heavy fines, if they prevaricated, as he called it. In the latter case, he would have, to use his own words, “persons of such means as might answer to the king in a round fine, in the Castle-Chamber;* because the fear of that
*“So general and lasting were the terrors arising from these severe proceedings of the deputy, that, in 1637, the whole body of the gentry of the county of Galway offered to make a surrender of their estates to the crown; and for that
purpose sent a letter of attorney to the earl of Clanrickard, then at London, signed by one hundred and twenty-five persons of the best quality in the county. At the same time, the still imprisoned sheriff and jurors, instead of seeking redress, petitioned, but in vain, for pardon, offering to acknowledge the deputy's justice and their own errors of judgment, upon con
226 Strafford, I, 339.
fine would be apter to produce the desired effect in such persons, than in others who had little or nothing to lose."227
The villany of this scheme of depredation far exceeded that practised in former times. Some attention had been till now paid to letters patent, duly authenticated from the crown. These were generally regarded as affording proofs of good titles; and rescued the possessors from the ruin inflicted on their neighbours. But the chief part of the lands, proposed to be spoliated by Wentworth, being fenced round with patents, he found
dition only that they and the rest might be put upon the same. footing with the other planted counties; for in these cases, the general rule was, that a fourth part of their land should be taken from the natives, with an increase of rent upon the remainder; but the county of Galway, on account of its former refractoriness, was planted at a double rate; so that they lost half.'
“Wentworth was so far from being satisfied with this submissive petition and offer, that he insisted upon a public acknowledgment from these jurors, of their having committed not only an error in judgment, but even actual perjury, in the verdict they had given ; which being refused by them, he, besides planting their country at the rate before mentioned, procured an order from the king, that their agents in London should be sent prisoners to Dublin, to be tried before himself in the castle-chamber, for having dared to patronise their cause. These severities, however, raised no small apprehensions in some that were about the king, and even the king himself, lest they might disaffect the people of Ireland, and dispose them to call over the Irish regiments from Flanders to their assistance."228
227 Strafford, I. 442.
228 Curry, I. 157.
that his project would be defeated, and he be deprived of his prey, if he admitted the validity of letters patent. He therefore determined to reject them; and so utterly regardless was he of even the slightest appearance of honour or honesty, that he assigns, as a justification of the extensiveness of his spoliation, the very reason that should have been a shield to rescue the sufferers from his merciless gripe :
“ In former plantations in Ireland, all men claiming by letters patents had the full benefit of them, either in enjoying the lands granted them, or other lands equivalent thereunto, whether their letters patent were valid or invalid. And indeed, in those plantations, that favour might better be yielded, where the lands claimed by letters patent were not in any great or considerable proportion, than here, where ALMOST ALL THE LANDS FALLING UNDER PLANTATION ARE GRANTED, OR MENTIONED TO BE GRANTED, BY LETTERS PATENT."229
229 Strafford, II. 139.
Wide-spread scene of private spoliation. Needy
projectors and rapacious courtiers. Defective titles.
IN the last chapters, we have exhibited the unbridled spirit of rapine and plunder, by which the Irish were despoiled by their government, during the grand millenium of lord Clarendon and Dr. Warner.
But, execrable as were those proceedings, and profligate and abandoned as were the rulers by whom they were perpetrated, the sufferings and spoliations experienced by the Irish, from individual rapacity,* far exceeded them, in the wide
*“ Ireland had long been a prey to projectors and greedy courtiers, who procured grants of concealed lands; and, by setting up the king's title, forced the right owners of them, to avoid the plague and expense of a litigation, to compound with them on what terms they pleased. It was high time to put a stop to so scandalous a traffic, which reflected dishonour upon the crown, alienated the minds of the people from the government, and raised CONTINUAL CLAMOURS AND UNEASINESS IN EVERY PART OF THE KINGDOM. Many proprietors of lands could derive no title from the crown; the letters patents of others were insufficient in law, defective, doubtful, or not plain enough to prevent dispute. Commissions had been granted, from time to time, to remedy these defects, and compositions
scope they embraced, which was the whole extent of the kingdom.
made with the commissioners. But, as these commissions were afterwards either renewed or recalled, and new ones issued out, it was questioned whether, by such later commissions, the said former commissions, and the compositions grounded thereupon, were not revoked, countermanded, and annulled.
Besides, the commissions themselves might possibly be defective, uncertain, or not extend to give the commissioners as much power and authority as they exercised in making compositions, or passing letters patents to the subject, who, presuming every thing to be rightly done, by persons duly authorized, and his own possession to be fully assured to him, found himself mistaken in the end. For if either the commissions, or the king's letters upon which they were grounded, were lost, or not enrolled and recorded ; if the lands and tenements granted, or intended to be granted, in the letters patents, were mis-named, mis-recited, or not named and recited therein ; if offices and inquisitions had not been found, for proof of the king's title, before the making of such grants or letters patents; or if there were any defect in such offices and inquisitions ; if there were any omission of sufficient and special non obstantes of particular statutes, that ought to have been mentioned in the letters patents; if there were any mistake or omission in the recital of leases upon the premises, or of some part thereof, whether of record or no; if there were any lack of certainty, miscasting, or mis-rating of the true yearly value and rates of such lands and tenements, or of some part thereof, or of the yearly rents out of the premises, or some part thereof mentioned in the letters patents ; if there were any mistake in the apportioning or dividing the said rents, or the tenures of any of the land ; if the premises, or any part thereof, were in such grants estimated at a less, or even at a greater value than in truth they were ; if the towns, villages, places, baronies, hundreds, or counties, where the lands and tenements so granted lay, chanced to be misnamed ; if the natures, kinds, sorts, qualities or quantities of such lands and tenements, or