« ForrigeFortsæt »
6 the subject had the benefit of all those graces, so far as was compu. tible with honour, justice, and the benefit of the commonwealth. It is
000000000 this veracious historian—"in two points only the lord deputy thought fit to deny the request of the commons—the one, for limiting the king's title to sixty years backwards—the other, for enrolling the former surrenders, and passing new patents of estates in the province of Connaught and the county of Clare, not thinking them expedient for the kingdom in its present situation, or either necessary or convenient to be enacted at that time."445
*" In the 4th article they complain of the subjects being denied the benefit of the royal graces, (An. 1628,) in all the material parts thereof, particularly of the statute of limitations. Whereas it had been made appear to the last parliament that was held in Ireland, that the subject had the benefit of all those
graces, so far as was consistent with honour, justice, and the benefit of the commonwealth ; and they were then well satisfied in this point.
And as for the statute of limitations proposed, the council of Ireland upon solemn debate, adjudged it inexpedient for the kingdom, and unfit to be passed, and as the end of it was answered by the commission for remedy of defective titlest confirmed by act of parliament, by which great numbers had, and every body might have, upon easy rents, absolutely secured their estates; so the enacting of it now would turn only to the benefit of such as had stood out, and not contributed any thing to the moderate and just improvement of the revenue of the crown; besides, as that statute was proposed before his majesty was informed of his just title to a considerable quantity of lands in Connaght and the counties of Clare, Tipperary, and Limerick, and which since had been justly found by inquisitions legally taken, freely acknowledged, and voluntarily submitted to by the pretended possessors ; so it would lessen the revenue of the crown above 20,0001.11 a year, and debar the king of a
+ The council of Ireland, of whom the majority were among the most ac. tive depredators on the Irish, were not proper organs to decide on this important question.
# This is a gross mis-statement. "By the commission for the remedying of defective titles, the possessors of estates which had been for 2, 3, 4, or 500 years in their families, might be obliged to give up one-third or one-half of them to procure patents for the residue; whereas by a statute of limitations no claim could go beyond sixty years undisturbed possession.
Ś This is a miserable quibble, unworthy of an historian. The king knew that his father had passed an act, to this effect; and he knew a fact of far more importance, that he had received a most liberal payment for this among other articles of the graces--and that it was a violation of every principal of “ konour and justice" to fail in the performance of his contract.
| 1'his only shows the enormous extent to which depredation had been car. ried, and instead of an argument for the continuance of the spoliation, afforded a conclusive reason for its instant repeal. As well might a smuggler or a highwayman, who cleared by his illicit practices, 20,0001. a year, insist on continuing his career on the ground of the loss he would sustain by the abandonment of it, as Charles object to limiting his claims to sixty years, on account of the loss of the revenue which he would derive from the continuance of his depredations.
* Carte, I. 81.
scarcely possible to conceive of a more flagrant violation of truth, and in a case so plain and palpable, as to be level with the commonest capacity. What, was it inconsistent with “honour, justice, and the good of the commonwealth," that subjects who had paid enormous sums to be relieved from the uncertainty of their titles-the depredations of their king, his deputies, and their fellow subjects-and from the utter ruin that so frequently followed those depredations, should be defrauded of the quid pro quo?
With respect to the graces, Strafford was guilty of a gross, public falsehood. He sent to Charles I. the whole document as agreed on between that monarch and the Irish Catholics, with the remarks of the existing parliament, accompanied, as we see, by his own observations on, and objections to, the greater part of them. Yet he boldly asserted to the parliament, that he would not transmit the item for limiting the claims of the crown to sixty years,
or any other of the graces* prejudicial to the crown.”+
great and effectual means of strengthening and civilizing a great part of the kingdom, and of bringing commerce, industry and religion, into those parts by the intended plantation, for the preparing whereof very great pains had been taken, and large sums of money expended."-*6 * See the letter of Charles approving this base conduct, supra,
" We are resolved, not only privately to transmit our humble advices upon every article of the graces, but on Tuesday next to call this committee of the commons before us, and plainly tell them, we may not with our faith to our master give way to the transmitting of this law of threescore years, or any other of the graces prejudicial to the crown; nay, must humbly beseech his majesty they may not be introduced to the prejudice of his royal rights, and clearly represent unto the king, that he is not bound, either in justice, honour, or con science to grant them. And so putting in ourselves mean betwixt them and his majesty's pretended engagements, take the hard part wholly from his majesty and bear it ourselves, as well as we may; and yet no way conclude his majesty to apply all the grace to himself, which yet I trust he will not inlarge further than stands with wisdom, reason, and the prosperity of his own affairs."447
# This is miserable hypocrisy, a cloak to cover a system of fraud worthy of a band of pirates. A perusal of Chapter IX. will show how utterly the interests of religion were neglected in Ireland, and the deplorable state of the established church at the time when this pretended solicitude for religion was pleaded as a leading motive with the administration for their spoliations.
146 Carte, I. 109.
147 Strafford, 279.
Corruption and fraud in the election of members of parliament. Judges
of election return themselves. Outlaws and non-residents clected. Forty new boroughs created at once
in mean and insignificant places. Injustice and partiality of James I. Despotism of Strafford. Dublin election. Case of sir Piers Crosby. Poyning's law.
“ Hence charter'd boroughs are such public plagues,
For dissolution.”- Cowper. “ Such a house of commons *** is but an indecent mockery of the common sense of the nation."-Junius.
THE seventh chapter presented a sketch of the frauds practised in the elections of two parliaments held under Elizabeth. Those that took place in the elections for two held under James I. and Charles I. remain to be stated.
The first of these parliaments was held anno 1613. The whole number of boroughs represented, previously to that period, was thirty; but for this parliament, in order to secure an overwhelming majority, there were forty new boroughs created, in places where the government had decided influence, and nearly the whole in shabby, contemptible hamlets,* which had not the least claim to a representation.t
The chief of these boroughs were incorporated immediately before issuing the writs for the election ; but it being found that even with this reinforcement, the ascendancy of the government would be doubtful, with a most hardened and profligate disregard of even the forms of justice, many boroughs were incorporated after the writs had been issued, lest the recusants should have a majority of the members.I
*“ A number of new boroughs, most of them inconsiderable, and many of them too poor to afford wages to their representatives, must be entirely influenced by government, and must return its immediute creatures and dependents. Such an accession of power could not fail to encourage the administration to act without reserve, and
pursye the dictates of its passions and resentments."'448
+ The petition of the lords to king James, states the existence of " a fearful suspicion, that the project of erecting so many corpora. tions in places that can scantly pass the rank of the poorest villages in the poorest country in Christendom, do tend to nought else at this time, but that, by the voices of a few, selected for the purpose, under the name of burgesses, extreme penal laws should be imposed upon your subjects bere.”+49
I“ The deputy continued to increase the new boroughs to the number of forty, of which several were not incorporated, until the writs for summoning a parliament had already issued."'450
448 Leland, II. 519. 449 Idem, 521. 450 Idem, 522.
Sir John Davies feebly attempts to palliate this outrage on justice; but with about the same success as attended his elaborate vindication of the Ulster spoliation. *
How barefaced an undertaking! To defend so profligate a measure, as the creation of " forty boroughs or thereabouts at once, graciously and justly," and in such mean and contemptible places, for the purpose of overruling the voice of the real representatives of the nation, and enabling the government to pass what laws it pleased! How selfcondemned he must have felt!
The word “thereabouts” deserves consideration. It is highly probable, although there are at present no means of ascertaining the fact, that the number of new boroughs greatly exceeded forty, which number, however, is abundantly sufficient to establish the gross iniquity of the whole proceeding. Sir John states the number of counties, towns and boroughs, entitled to return members to parliament before that period, to have been twelve or thirteen of the first, and " thirty at least” of the other two. It was not for the advantage of his argument to have underrated the number-and he was too able a lawyer to afford any advantage against himself. It is there fore not to be supposed that the number exceeded his statement. These forty-three counties, towns, and boroughs returned, therefore, only eighty-six members to parliament; whereas the whole number elected was two hundred and forty-two. It therefore, I trust, appears conclusively that there were seventy-six new boroughs created , at that period.
It may, perhaps, be objected, that in king James's speech it is stated, that the deputies complained of only fourteen false returns, that is, probably returns from fourteen boroughs. These must have been objected to, on account of specific frauds, wholly independent of
*" His majesty hath most graciously and justly erected divers new boroughs, in sundry parts of the kingdom."151
“Certainly the number of these new boroughs, compared with the counties that never had any burgesses before this time, doth carry a less proportion than the ancient boroughs, compared with the number of the ancient counties; for in those twelve or thirteen old shires, there are thirty cities and boroughs, at least, which send citizens and burgesses to the parliament. Whereas, for seventeen counties at large, being more than half the shires of this kingdom, which had not one borough in them before this new erection, his majesty hath now lately erected BUT FORTY NEW BOROUGHS, or thereabouts, which, in the judgment of all indifferent men, must needs seem reasonable, just, and honourable."'459
†" A number of new boroughs, most of them inconsiderable, and many of them too poor to afford wages to their representatives, must be entirely influenced by government, and must return its creatures and immediate dependants. Such an accession of power could not fail to encourage the administration to act without reserve, and to pursue the dictates of its passions and resentments."453
451 Davies, 304,
the new boroughs, of which the deputies complained loudly and justly; as these new boroughs, even supposing sir John's stateinent correct, must have returned eighty members.
Abandoned as was this system, it did not comprise one-half of the injustice or wickedness of the election. The same course was pursued as in the parliament of 1568. Many non-resident Englishmen were returned; some of the judges returned themselves: and a number of wretched outlaws completed the list of the members of that bouse of commons which attainted Tyrone and Tyrconnel.
To heighten the wickedness of the proceedings, in imitation of the example set under queen Elizabeth, no writs were issued to sundry ancient boroughs, which, from their population and charters, were entitled to representatives !!*
The lords and commons, seeing their rights thus daringly trampled under foot, the law of the land shamefully violated, and the legislation of the nation virtually thrown into the hands of a greedy and devouring horde of strangers, made a struggle as ardent, but as ineffectual,
as had taken place in 1568. They were baffled by the address, overcome by the power, and compelled to yield to the wicked views, of a profligate government. They dispatched commissioners to the court of king James, to petition him for redress :t but they were treated with insult and outrage. Two of them were, under some frivolous pretence, thrown into prison in London,t for alleged insolence of conduct: the case was referred to the British privy council;
*" It was asserted by them, in support of their opposition, that the sheriffs had sent no writs to several of the boroughs ; that from others, the returns would not be received ; that most of the patents and charters of the new boroughs were dated after the commissions for the writs were issued."454
+ Extract from the petition of the Irish lords. " That it may be cause of great discontentment to your majesty's subjects in Ireland, that so great a number of those, who have no estates to oblige them to the defence of that kingdom, should give voices in parliament there to make laws. "455
“ The recusant lords and commons of the pale dispatched letters to the king and the English council, urging the grievance of the new boroughs, incorporated with such shameful partiality, and represented by attornies, clerks, and servants of the lord deputy, and the violence done to Everard, chosen speaker by a majority of undoubted representatives; imploring to be heard by their agents, and renouncing the royal favour, should they fail in any point of proof.9456
" It seemed no auspicious incident to the Irish agents, that Talbot and Luttrel, for some late or present insolence of conduct, were committed prisoners, one to the tower, the other to the fleet."437
G“ In flagrant violation of the rights of the Irish parliament, he re
454 Crawford, I. 346.
455 Parl. Hist. vol. VII. 251.