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against the fees and proceedings of ecclesiastical courts* and employment of commutation money, and against the dues and demands of the protestant clergy for christenings, marriages, burials, breaking of ground in churches, hearse-cloths, mortuaries and other customs; some of which, as St. Patrick's ridges, soul-money, anointing muttons, holy-water clerk, and Mary-gallons, had been in many places introduced in the times of popery, and were by custom raised into a constant revenue."50
I now quit this odious part of a most odious subject, and feel confident that I have proved to the complete satisfaction of every candid reader, notwithstanding the unqualified assertions to the contrary, of writers who are regarded as high authority, that the Roman Catholics of Ireland, during the whole period of forty years which preceded
The annexed extracts from the humble remonstrance of the knights, citizens, and burgesses of the house of commons in parliament assembled” in 1640, referred to in the text by Carte, sheds further light on “the undisturbed exercise of their religion," enjoyed by the Irish Roman Catholics, for forty years” before 1641.
“ To the lord deputy, “ They humbly represent unto your lordship, that divers complaints have been referred to them by sundry persons, from several parts of this kingdom, of many grievous exactions, pressures and other vexatious proceedings, of some of the clergy of this kingdom, and their officers and ministers, against the laity, and especially the poorer sort, to the great impoverishment and general detriment of the whole kingdom; which the said house of commons, after many debates thereof, having taken into serious consideration, it was conceived by the unanimous votes of the house, that all of them were very great and enormous grievances. Some whereof, being most exorbitant and barbarous, they were of opinion ought to be quite abolished, being repugnant to law and reason; and the rest to be reformed, &c.”
* Great sams of money received by several bishops of this kingdom for commutation of penance; which money, by his majesty's instructions, should be converted to pious uses ; not observed, but made a private profit.”61
“ In Connaught and elsewhere, six pence per annum of every couple, (holy-water clerk;) of every man that dies, a muttue, by the name of anointing-money: from a poor man that has but one cow, they take that for mortuary: from one that is better able, his best garment for mortuary. If a woman, her best garment for mortuary: and a gallon of drink for every brewing, by the name of mary-gallons : for every beef that is killed for the funeral of any man, the hide and tallow, and they challenged a quarter besides: four pence or six pence per annum from every parishioner, for soul-money: a ridge of wintercorn and a ridge of oats for every plough, by the name of St. Patrick's ridges: for portion-canons, the tenth part of the goods, after debts
paid, &c. 98
59 Carte, I. 101.
60 I. Commons' Journal, I. 258.
the insurrection of 1641, were exposed to a persecution of the most rancorous character. It was coeval with the accession of James to the throne, and continued with slight and unimportant intermissions through his reign and that of his successor. The facts are established by authentic public docuinents, and by the testimony of English and protestant writers generally labouring under a strong bias against the Roman Catholics. We have seen in a public proclamation that “the assembling in public placesto celebrate their superstitious worship,” was considered as such“ insolence and presumption in them,985 as to call down upon them the vengeance of the government, which dispatched a file of soldiers to rob their altars and seize their priests in the time of divine worship. They were, moreover, subject to the most grievous exactions and oppression in the ecclesiastical courts, * before which they were cited on the most frivolous pretexts. The declaration, therefore, that “no man could say he had suffered prejudice or disturbance on account of his religion,” is not only not true, but directly the reverse of truth-as they suffered pains and penalties and were under disabilities of the most vexatious character.
The same writers who vaunt of the religious toleration enjoyed by the Roman Catholics, draw an equally flattering, but equally fallacious picture of the security of property during that period. This remains to be examined. Temple, Clarendon, and Warner,
Leland. “ T'he two nations had now lived to- “The commissioners appointed to gether forty years in peace, with great distribute the lands, scandalously security and comfort, which had in a abused their trusts, and by fraud or manner consolidated them into one violence deprived the natives of those body, knit and compacted together possessions, which the king had rewith all those bonds and ligatures of served for them. Some, indeed, were friendship, alliance, and consanguinity, suffered to enjoy a small pittance of such as might make up a constant and per. reservation; others were totally ejected."65 petual union betwist them."64
“ There are not wanting proofs of
* The following affecting picture of the vexatious oppressions and grinding injustice of the ecclesiastical courts in Ireland, drawn by Bishop Burnet, in his life of Bishop Bedell, is beyond the reach of sus. picion, and places in strong relief, the deceptious statements of the tranquillity and happiness enjoyed by the Irish, as stated by Temple, Clarendon, Carte, and Warner. Those courts pervaded every part of the kingdom. No man was so high or so low as to escape
the fangs of their
officers. “ The officers of the court made it their business to draw people into trouble by vexatious suits, and to hold them so long in it that for three pence worth of the tithe of turf, they would be put to five pounds charge. And the solemnest and sacredest of all the church censures, which was excommunication, went about in so sordid and base a manner, that all regard to it, as it was a spiritual censure, was lost, and the effects it had in law made it be cried out on as a most intolerable piece of tyranny. The officers of the court thought they had a sort of right to oppress the natives, and that all was well got, that was wrung from them.'?66 63 Supra, 37.
64 Temple, 15. 65 Leland, II. 546. 66 Life of Bedell, 89.
• Whatsoever their land, or labour, the most iniquitous practices, of hard. or industry produced, was their own, ened cruelty, of vile perjury, and being not only free from having it scandalous subornation, employed tu taken from them by the king upon despoil the fair and unoffending proprie. any pretence whatsoever, without tor of his inheritance."'71 their consent, but also secured a * They were still exposed to veratious gainst,” &c.67
inquisitions into the titles of their estates, “ In this blessed condition of peace and were impatient to be freed from and security, the English and Irish, the the apprehensions of litigious suits. Protestants and Catholics, lived min. The popish party were not more soligled together, in all the provinces of citous for the interest of their relithe kingdom quietly trafficing with gion, than to extricate themselves from one another, during the whole happy the disadvantages and mortifications to reign of James : and from his death, which they were exposed by the penal every degree of their happiness was
statutes."72 increased and improved under the go. “ Adventurers were encouraged by vernment of his late majesty."68
the numerous donations of estates, “The papists had for many years en. and the ease with which afluent for. joyed a great calm, being upon the tunes were obtained in Ireland. They matter absolved from the severest ransacked old records, they detected parts of the law, and dispensed with such concealments; were countenan. for the gentlest; and were grown only ced by the state ; they dispossessed a part of the revenue, without any pro. the old inhabitants, or obliged them bable danger of being made a sacrifice to compound for their intrusion; they to the law.969
were vested with portions of their “ A few interruptions and murmur- lancs, or otherwise rewarded.”.73 ings in some particular places not “The interested assiduity of the withstanding, almost FORTY YEARS had king's creatures in scrutinizing the passed away in the greatest calm and fe. titles of those lands, which had not licity!!! that the inhabitants
of Ireland yet been found for, or acknowledge had ever before enjoyed.* The greated to belong to, the crown, was, if increase of commerce, the improve: possible, still more detestable."*4 ment of land, and the ornament and " The revival of obsolete claims of advantages of public buildings, had the crown, harassing of proprietors given a new face to the country. by fictions of law, dispossessing them Whatsoever their skill and industry pro- by fraud and circumvention, and all the duced became their own ; being not only various artifices of interested agents free from fear of having it taken froin and ministers, were naturally irritate them by the government, upon any pre- ing; and the public discontents must tence without their consent !! but being have been further inflamed by the in. also secured against theft and rob- sincerity of Charles, in evading the bery, by just execution of salutary confirmation of his graces; the insoand useful laws."70
lence of Strafford in openly refusing “In this happy situation of affairs it; together with the nature and man
000 * In the greatest calm and felicity," 8c. This flattering state. ment might be strictly true, and yet not go far to prove what was intended. Ireland having, from the date of the invasion by Henry II. been an almost uninterrupted scene of warfare, oppression, rapine, and confiscation, this period of greatest calm and tranquillity" might -be, as it actually was, a period of great suffering and oppression. Sometimes the comparative or even the superlative degree of comparison is not so expressive as a simple positive. A man may be the best of his family, and yet be far from good. 67 Clarendon's Ireland, p. 7.
68 Idem, page 8. 69 Clarendon's England, 1. 116. 70 Warner, 1.
71 Leland, 11. 549. 72 Idem, 561. 73 Idem, 515.
94 Idem, 547.
when the national grievances were re- ner of his proceedings against the ilressed, and a general composure and proprietors of Connaught.' serenity was established throughout the kingdom; nothing to fear from the administration, and no animosity as to imterest or religion appearing to subsist among them, without the least pretence of a quarrel, or the apprehension of any hostility by the protestants,” &c.75
Here again appear errors of the grossest kind, utterly incapable of any apology, jostification, or extenuation whatsoever. During the period in question, when we are gravely assured that every man was secure in his property, the unoffending inhabitants of six counties in Ulster were most unjustly and wickedly dispossessed of their paternal estates, which were bestowed upon hungry strangers, who, to heighten the cruelty and injustice of the proceeding, were prohibited, under severe penalties, from selling or letting to the original proprietors. The vacating one hundred and fifty royal patents in one day --the infamous fine of 40001. on each of the Galway jurors, for acting conscientiously, and not finding a title for the crown on prin. ciples, which, if admitted, would vitiate the titles of half the landed property in the world--and an endless variety of other grievances took place within the same period.
The extracts from Temple, Clarendon, and Warner, would warrant the belief that of the Irish Roman Catholics during these forty years-every man “ dwelt safely under his vine and under his fig tree--and none to make him afraid ;" that the government was mild, patriarchal and beneficent; that life, liberty, and property were saeredly secured; that, in a word, the nation enjoyed a millenium of peace, prosperity, and happiness, which nothing but the direst insa: nity could induce them to interrupt. Such an inference, how natural soever from the deceptious language of those writers, would be as “ false as Erebus itself,” as appears by the preceding statements of Leland, which I shall corroborate by other testimony.
“ 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 made with the commissioners. But, as these commissions were afterwards either rebewed 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. 75 Warner, 6.
76 Leland, III. 102.
“ 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 misnamed, misrecited, 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 misrating 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 lands and tenements so granted lay, chanced to be misnamed; if the natures, kinds, sorts, qualities or quantities of such lands and tenements, or of any part thereof, were not truly set forth and named; or if, in grants to corporations and bodies politic, whether spiritual or temporal, the right style, by which they were denominated and distinguished, was not used: in all these, and MANY OTHER CASES, the letters patents were liable to be disputed and set aside. This rendered all possessions very precarious; and there were few gentlemen in the kingdom, but had been, sometime or other, questioned for their litle, or disturbed in the enjoyment of their estates. The inconveniences whereof were very visible, in the discouragement of husbandry, (few persons caring to improve lands which they cannot call their own,) and in the general dissatisfaction of the people."77
This was the state of things, courteous reader, during the period of the “ great calm and tranquillity.” in which “whatever their land or labour produced was their own!!!”
Let us proceed with further developements of this wonderful “calm.” The commissioners sent about the commencement of the reign of James I. from England, by the king, to inquire into the numerous grievances complained of by the Irish agents, set forth in their report to his majesty, that “out of the particular instances, (being many,) of oppression, and extortions of the
soldiers, provost-marshals, and others, they had selected three score. That in counties, where the composition, in lieu of the cess was paid, the soldiers did extort on his majesty's subjects, by neither paying money nor giving tickets, for what
77 Carte, I. 60.