Billeder på siden

The landed proprietors of Connaught, the destined victims of this rapacious scheme, had been terrified into a surrender of their lands to Elizabeth, in order to take out letters patent for them ; but unfortunately the surrenders were not enrolled.' To remedy this, anno 1617, they surrendered them again and received patents under the great seal. These likewise were not enrolled, through the neglect of a clerk, or more probably through the fraud of some of the officers of government who were desirous of availing themselves of the opportunity of depredating on the owners. For the enrolment a large sum had been paid. As a remedy for all these errors; an act of grace was made in 1618, full in their favour.* And, finally, as I have stated in the last

being the greater number, you can want no help they may give you therein. Nay, in case there be no title to be made good to these countries for the crown, yet should I not despair forth of reason of state, and for the strength and security of the kingdom, to have them passed to the king by immediate act of parliament !"9484

** The lords and gentlemen of the province of Connaught and the county of Clare, had made a composition with sir John Perrot, and had thereupon surrendered their estates into the hands of queen Elizabeth, but had generally neglected to enroll their surrenders, and take out letters patents for them, as they were obliged to do by the instrument

of the composition. * This defect icas supplied in the thirteenth year of king James, when a new commission was issued out to receive the surrenders of their several estates, and to pass unto them, and their heirs, letters patents for their respective lands to be holden of the crown, as of the castle of Athlone by konight's service: the surrenders were accordingly made, and patents passed to them under the broad seal; but neither of these were enrolled in Chancery.

“This rendered all their titles defective; and the lands remaining still vested in the crown, it was proposed to make such a plantation there as had been made in Ulster. The omission was not so much the wilful default of the subject, as the neglect of a clerk intrusted by them; for they had paid near 30001. to the officers at Dublin for enrolments of these surrenders and patents, which were never made. There was an act of state made in lord Grandison's time, and dated 14th May, 1618, full in their favour, and confirming their possessions; and they had paid great sums of money for it into the exches quer ; they were quietly settled on their lands, and paid the king his composition better than any part of the kingdom. It was hard in these circumstances to turn them out of their estates upon a mere nicety of law, which ought to be tenderly made use of in derogation of the honour and faith of the king's broad seal. It was a troublesome affair to engage in a plantation, the work of many years, and ever attended with great difficulties, in reconciling the jarring interests of all parties, so as to give satisfaction to the particular persons who were to be provided for, and adjust their several allotments in such a manner, as to promote the general good. It was chapter, they had paid Charles 270,0001. sterling for this and other graces.

434 Strafford, I. 353.

That the titles of those proprietors were as unimpeachable as those of any proprietors in the world, will not be questioned by any man of candour, and nothing but an utter destitution of every principle of honour and honesty, could have led to an attempt to invalidate them. Yet it was under these circumstances, that Wentworth undertook his project of the plantation of Connaught.

As soon as the parliament was adjourned, Wentworth made his excursion into Connaught to carry this favourite scheme into execu: tion. He had sought in vain for any plea on which to ground a claim for the crown.* But he was not to be deterred by such a difficultyand the plan generally pursued was well calculated to facilitate his schemes. The judges were bribed, and the juries packed.

The nefarious system of bribing the judges stands recorded by Wentworth himself. To interest the court and insure its assistance in the depredation on the unfortunate Irish, he advised the monarch to bestow on the lord chief justice and the chief baron four shillings in the pound out of the first years rent raised out of the depredated estates. Charles, worthy of such a profligate representative, bestowed, and the judges, worthy of such a monarch and such a deputy, received these wages of their prostitution. Well might Shakspeare exclaim

“ Thieves, for their robbery, have authority,
When judges rob and steal.

900C dangerous also to make the experiment in a whole province at once, in a province so strongly situated as Connaught was, inhabited by an active people, and abounding in idle swordsmen, more numerous, as well as more dangerous, than any in Ireland; and where, if the plantation was carried on with all the mildness and

grace sible, it must of necessity turn out many thousands of poor people to beg their bread, and particularly seven thousand idle fellows, (as booked down by officers, and given in a list to the lord deputy) that were fit for nothing but arms, and who, living at present upon their friends and relations, must then be forced to seek and push their for

* “ How to make his majesty's title to these plantations of Connaght and Ormond (which, considering they have been already attempted and foil?d, is, of all the rest, the greatest difficulty) I have not hitherto received the least instruction from your lordship or any other minister of that side." 486

“ Howbeit these plantations of Connaght and Ormond may seem to be far off, when as yet I have not been enabled by the discovery of any title to either of them from any minister on that side. And this is the principal verb, without which, all other discourse will prove light and empty. But I trust singly (with your majesty's countenance to support and fortify me) to work through all these difficulties.!"9457

that was pos


485 Carte, I. 47.

186 Strafford, I. 339.

457 Idem, 342

The bribe produced the desired effect for the judges laboured the causes with as much zeal, as if they were the plaintiffs themselves.*

The annals of governmental fraud and villainy afford very few more flagrant cases. Who can read the detail without horror? A king conspires with his vicegerent, to despoil and plunder his defenceless subjects, whose protection is one of his most sacred duties. To insure success in this flagitious undertaking, they destroy the purity and independence of the court by direct bribery of the judges. And the amount of the bribe depends on the extent of the depredation. They agree to share among them the “first fruits” of the spoil, which are divided into five parts, of which four fall to the king and deputy, the master plunderers, and the fifth to their agents and accomplices, the judges. Yet, this monarch is by bigoted royalists reverenced as a Marcus Aurelius, the exemplar of every royal virtue!

It cannot be amiss to translate into plain English a sentence in the annexed note, and establish its true purport, as shedding further light on this most iniquitous transaction. * Every four shillings once paid, shall better your revenue for ever after at least five pounds.". There is but one meaning to be attached to these words; and that is, that for every acre which would fall to the crown, without the bribe, twenty-five would be spoliated in consequence of that powerful agent! Great God! what a view this presents, what abhorrence it must excite in every upright mind—and how totally must it destroy the credit of those historians, who have ventured to state that “

whatsoever, their land, or labour, or industry produced, was their own, being free from having it taken from them by the king upon any pretence whatsoever.'”+

But the iniquitous deputy was not satisfied with corrupting the judges. He directed an equal degree of attention to the jurors, of whom he sought out two kinds, one poor and needy, who might easily be bribed-the other very wealthy, whom he might plunder by heavy fines, if they did not comply with his wishes. In the latter

"OOOOOO ** Your majesty was graciously pleased upon my humble advice to bestow four shillings in the pound upon your lord chief justice and lord chief baron in this kingdom, forth of the first yearly rent raised upon the commission of defective titles, which, upon observation, I find to be the best given that ever was: For now they do intend it with a care and diligence such as it were their own private. And most certain, the gaining to themselves every four shillings once paid shall better your revenue for ever after at least five pounds !"488

“ Before my coming from Dublin I had given order, that the gentlemen of the best estates and understandings should be returned, which was done accordingly, as you will find by their names. My reason was, that this being a leading case for the whole province, it would set a great value in their estimation upon the goodness of the king's title, being found by persons of their qualities, and as much concerned in their own particulars as any other. Again, finding the evidence so strong, as unless they went against it, they must pass for

† Supra, p. 48.

488 Strafford, II. 41,

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.489

6 I will redeem the time as much as can be, treat with such as may give furtherance in finding of the title, which, as I said, is the prineipal, enquire out fit men to serve upon juries,"480

The success attending the bribery of the judges in the case of the inquest into defective titles, induced Wentworth to urge his royal master to bribe in the same mode the chief baron and the barons of the exchequer, in cases of compositions with the recusants in the south.

Wentworth began his career with the county of Roscommon,t where he made a frothy address to the grand jury, in which he canted on the honour and equity of his royal master, and the benevolence of his views towards his good subjects of Connaught. But the jet of it was

COCOOOooos the king, I resolved to have persons of such means as might answer the king a round fine in the Castle-chamber in case they should prevaricate, who, in all seeming even out of that reason would be more fearful to tread shamefully and impudently aside from the truth, than such as had less, or nothing to lose.491

**This I only mention in regard, if some such like reward were placed upon your chief baron and barons

of the exchequer there forth of compositions made by them for your majesty with the recusants in the south, and your majesty pleased, upon the declaring your bounty, to call them to you, and withal recommend the care of the business to them, I am verily persuaded it would very much raise unto your profit those compositiors."499

7“ Wentworth, at the head of the commissioners of plantation, proceeded to the western province. The inhabitants of the county of Leitrim had already acknowledged the king's title to their lands, and submitted to a plantation. It was now deemed expedient to be gin with those of Roscommon. The commission was opened in this county; the evidences of the king's title produced, examined, and submitted to a jury, formed of the principal inhabitants, purposely, (as the lord deputy expressed it) that they might answer the king a round fine in the castle-chamber, in case they should prevaricate.' They were told by Wentworth, that his majesty's intention, in establishing his undoubted title was to make them a rich and civil peoples that he purposed not to deprive them of their just possessions, but to invest them with a considerable part of his own; that he needed not their interposition, to vindicate bis right, which might be established by the usual course of law, upon an information of intrusion ; but that he wished his people to share with him in the honour and profit of the glorious and excellent work he was now to execute; to his majesty it was indifferent, whether their verdict should acknowledge or deny his title. "493

“ I told the jury, the first movers of his majesty to look into this his undoubted title were the princely desires he hath to effect them

489 Strafford, I. 442.
492 Idem, II. 41.

490 Idem, 339. 491 Idem, 442.

493 Leland, III. 36.

the comfortable information, that his majesty was indifferent “whether their verlict should acknowledge or deny his title;" conveying thereby a clear idea that he would adopt some other mode of attaining his right; the "path to which lay so open and plain before him.He gave them to understand, that if they consulted their own true interest, they would find for the crown, as they would then have better terms than " if they were passionately resolved to go over all bounds to their own wills. 39494

In the plea put in by the counsel for the crown, it was pretended

a civil and rich people, which cannot by any so sure and ready means be attained as by a plantation, which therefore in his great wisdom he had resolved; yet that it should be so done as not to take any thing from them which was justly theirs, but in truth to bestow amongst them a good part of that which was his own ; that I was commanded to ascertain them, that it was his majesty's gracious resolution to question no man's patent that had been granted formerly upon good considerations, and was of itself valid in the law; his great seal was his public faith, and should be kept sacred in all things; that the king came not to sue them to find for him, as needing any power of theirs to vindicate his own right; for without them where his right is so plain, he could not in justice have been denied possession upon an information of intrusion; the court in an ordinary way of exchequer proceeding would, must have granted it upon the first motion of his attorney-general."495

“ With this I left them marvellous much satisfied; for a few good words please them more than you can imagine.496

“His majesty, being desirous in these public services to take his people along with him, was graciously pleased, they should have as well a part with him in the honour as in the profit of so glorious and excellent a work for the commonwealth ; that therefore his majesty was indifferent, whether they found for him or no, and had directed me to press nothing upon them in that kind, where the path to his right lay elsewhere so open and fair before him. But yet of myself, and as one that must ever wish prosperity to their nation, I desired them first to descend into their own consciences, take them to counsel, and there they should find the evidence for the crown clear and conclusive; next, to beware how they appeared resolved or obstinate against so manifest a truth, or how they let slip forth of their hands the means to weave themselves into the royal thoughts and care of his majesty thorough a chearful and ready acknowledgment of his right, and a due and full submission thereunto; so then, if they would be inclined to truth and do best for themselves, they were undoubtedly to find the title for the king. If they were passionately resolved to go over all bounds to their own will, and without respect at all to their own good, to do that which were simply best for his majesty, then I should advise them, roughly and pertinaciously to deny to find any title at all. And there I left them to chant together, (as they call it,) over their evidence.99407

194 Strafford, I. 442.

495 Idem, 443.

496 Idem, 442.

497 Idem, 443.

« ForrigeFortsæt »