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that the “ records and evidences” proving the title, “were embezzled out of the treasury at 'Trim," which is in all probability a mere fabrication to afford a pretext for the seizure of the lands. It is in the same plea asserted, that an act was passed in the tenth year of Henry VII. anno 1494, to entitle that king and his heirs to enter on and seize all the manors, lordships, &c. in the province of Connaught. However strange it may appear, it is probable that this also is a fiction; as there is now before me a copy of the Irish statutes, published by authority, anno 1678, in which this law does not appear. And a public law of such importance would scarcely be omitted in an edi. tion published under the auspices of government. But admitting this statement to be all sacredly true, it does not materially affect the question. Suppose for a moment that a prostitute parliament had in 1494 passed an act, vesting in the crown the whole province, could this, after a lapse of 140 years, give a title in the eye of justice? Could any thing but the most lawless rapacity have preferred and pursued a claim on such miserable ground'? No certainly. If an act of parliament could in this manner transfer to the crown an entire province, on the same ground a claim might have been readily made out to the fee-simple of the whole island on the ground of the act passed during the reign of Elizabeth, as quoted page 140. The
villainy 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 in Connaught, proposed to be spoliated by Wentworth, being fenced round with patents, he found 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. “ We considered that in former plantations here all men claiming by
999 ** The records and evidences which should intitle the crown to these lands amongst others were imbezzled out of the treasury of Trim to the disherison of the crown. For remedy, whereof, by a statute made in Ireland, 10 Henry VII. it was declared, that “the lord ship of Connaght was annexed to the crown,” and it was further enacted that it should be lawful for the king and his heirs to enter and seize in all such manors, honours, lordships, castles and tenements, rents, services, moors, meadows, pastures, waters and mills, with their appurtenances, &c. appertaining to the said lordship of Connaght (amongst other things) and to seize all and every ward or wards, escheat, waifs, felons goods, and all other things appertaining or belonging to the said lordship, whereof any manner leful title or discharge of the king's interest cannot be shewed."9498
498 Strafford, I. 455.
letters patent had the full benefit of them either in enjoying the lands granted them, or other land 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 any great or considerable proportions of lands, than here, where almost all the lands falling under plantation are granted or mentioned to be granted by letters patent, so diligent have these people been to gain the countenance of letters patent, hoping thereby to anticipate the rights of the crown. So as, if we should hold up to that course of allowing all letters patent, and not lay hold on the defects and infirmities of some, it would be an occasion to prevent that great benefit which this service, (as we intend to order it) will undoubtedly effect to the king and kingdom."499
One part of Wentworth's address has escaped observation heretofore, which nevertheless deserves the most pointed attention. It would afford room for a commentary of a volume on the hideous oppression and rapacity of the Irish government:
“ To manifest his majesty's justice and honour, I thought fit to let them know," says the satrap," that it was his majesty's gracious pleasure, that any man's counsel should be fully and willingly heard, in defence of their respective rights; being A FAVOUR NEVER BEFORE AFFORDED TO ANY UPON TAKING THESE KIND OF INQUISITIONS.
Here a pause, a solemn pause, is necessary. A government, whose paramount duty is to protect the persons and property of its subjects, pursues for centuries a piratical system of legal warfare on their property; advances claims to estates, one, two, three, or four hundred years old; hangs fines and imprisonment over the heads of the jurors; bribes the judges; and, let it be deeply engraven on the mind of every man of candour, that, for above four hundred years, the men whose estates it sought to spoliate, were never, till the time of Wentworth, allowed the favour of “ being heard, by counsel, in defence of their respective rights!" Tripoli, Algiers, and Morocco might be safely defied to produce a parallel.
Another most odious and inveterate feature of the system was developed on this occasion. It appears that hitherto no notice whatever had ever been given the parties to make any preparation to rebut the claims of the crown. They were always taken by surprise. Wentworth, as already stated, assumes great merit for having given the parties twenty days notice to make preparation to rebut claims running above four hundred years back!*
* “ They exhibited a petition signed by a great many of them, whereby they desired the finding might be deferred till a longer time, pretending they were unprovided. To this I replied, if it was so, it was their own fault, I having caused a scire facias to issue forth of the chancery twenty days before, which might publish the coming of the commissioners about this great work, in such a manner as every man might have timely notice, and be left without colour of excuse, or of being surprised; which was more also than had formerly been accustomed in 199 Strafford, II, 139.
500' Idem, I. 442.
The reader cannot be surprised that the jurors of Roscommon, under these circumstances, found for the crown. Nothing less could have been expected:
“ The presence and interposition of a lord deputy, whose character and temper were fitted to operate on men's passions, had probably their full effect on this occasion. The king's title was found, without scruple or. hesitation; and the verdict attended with a petition for an equitable treatment of present proprietors, and a due provision for the church.”501
The example of Roscommon had a decided influence on the counties of Mayo and Sligo,* where the king's title was found without difficulty.
The county of Galway remained. The earl of Clanrickard was the chief landed proprietor there. The gentry were powerful and resolute; and, supported by the countenance of the earl, and relying on the justice of the cause, the jury refused to give a verdict for the crown. Wentworth fined the sheriff one thousand pounds, and summoned the jurors to the council chamber, where they were sentenced to the enormous fine of four thousand pounds each, and to be imprisoned till the fine was paid.t
cases of this nature; so as I desired their excuse in that I durst not. forbear after so just and fair a proceeding on the king's part, to put of the finding of his majesty's litle.9509
* " The next week we shall go on with the county of Sligo, and so in order with the rest, and shall, I trust, speed no worse with them than we have done here; howbeit there is much muttering, we shall meet with opposition in the county of Galway, and as if the earl of Clanricard, or at least his servants, were very averse from the plantation. Indeed, whether it be so or no, I know not; but I could wish that county would stand out; for, I am well assured, it shall turn to his majesty's advantage if they do. For certain it is a country which lies out at a corner by itself, and all the inhabitants wholly natives and papists, hardly an Englishman amongst them, whom they kept out with all the industry in the world ; and therefore it would be of great security they were thoroughly lined with English indeed.9303
t“ We then bethought us of a course to vindicate his majesty's honour and justice, not only against the persons of the jurors, but also against the sheriff
" for returning so insufficient, indeed, as we conceived, a packed jury, to pass upon a business of so great weight and consequence; and therefore we fined the sheriff in a thousand pounds to his majesty, and bound over the jury to appear in the castle-chamber, where we conceive, it is fit that their pertinacious carriage be followed with all just severity. And because we saw apparently, that there had been plotting and combining to stand against his majesty's title, insomuch as the viscount Clanmorris, nephew to our very good lord, the earl of St. Albans and Clanrickard, hath been heard to say in a vaunting manner, before the jury gave up their verdict, that they would have given a great sum of money, that we had begun here, that so by
501 Leland, III. 37. 502 Strafford, I. 442. 603 Idem, 444.
of all the various instances of the obliquity of Carte's history, there is none more extraordinary than the view he gives of this hideous affair. He not only absolutely defends the proceedings of Strafford; but unqualifiedly censures the jury, who, “on the evidence produced, ought to have found,” he says, “as their neighbours had found!!!" Among his accusations of the jury, the first is, their grounding their refusal of finding a title to the province, on “ THE PRETENCE that the subjection of the country under Henry II. was a submission, not a conquest.”* In what a state of delirium must the
poooooooood not finding the king's title here, the other counties might take exam ple to do the like, we judged it needful instantly upon the place to publish a proclamation (a copy whereof we herewith send you) to the intent, if it might be, to break the combination; however to make all the natives of this county inexcusable, if they did not accept the grace thereby offered, and to open the passage of his majesty's justice more plain and honourable, by this means taking from them all the pretence they might make, that the fault was only the jury's, and so the punishment properly applicable to them, and not to the rest of the county, who might allege themselves to be altogether innocent there
*« The jury of the county of Galway was summoned to meet at Portumna, on Aug. 13, 1635, and consisted of the principal gentlemen of the county, The king's title to all the lands in it, except such as belonged to the church, or had been granted out by the patents of his predecessors, WAS PROVED BY THE CONQUEST OF KING HENRY II. and the grant he made of it to Roderic, lord of Connaught; by the grant of Henry III. to Richard De Burgo, of twentyfive cantreds, out of thirty, whereof the whole consists, upon a rent of three hundred marks for the first five years, and of five hundred for ever afterwards ; and by the payment of this rent into the exchen quer, and the allowances thereof in the sheriff's accompt from time to time; by the descent of king Edward IV. from Lionel, duke of Clarence, and the heiress of De Burgo; and by the resting of their lands in the crown, by the statute of 10 Henry VII. c. 15.
The jury, however, UPON PRETENCE THAT THE ACQUISITION OF HENRY II. WAS NOT A CONQUEST,
but a submission of the inhabitants; that the grant to Roderick was barely a composition, whereby the king had only the dominion, but not the property of the lands, though the rent paid sufficiently proved the latter; that, in tracing the descent to Edward IV. proof had not been made of Lionel Duke of Clarence's possession; and that the statute of Henry VII. related to tenures rather than to lands, though no man could be proved to have any land there in property at that time, thought fit to find against the king's title, (though no grant was produced from the crown to any ancestor of the possessors, and WHERE NOBODY ELSE HAS A RIGHT, THE KING'S TITLE MUST BE GOOD ;) and when called upon to declare in whom the freehold was vested, (if not in the crown,) they refused to do so. The lord deputy highly resented this proceeding; and,
504 Strafford, 1. 451.
mind of the man be, who could be so far lost to a sense of reason or justice, as to style this sound and irrefragable plea, “ a pretence," or to countenance any claims resting on such untenable ground! That in a country, which for centuries had been despoiled on pretexts as iniquitous, such claims should be advanced by a depredator of the character of Wentworth, is not wonderful: but that an historian, writ. ing, a century afterwards, with all the facts before him, on which to form a correct estimate, should for a moment admit that the titles to estates, held in the same families for ages, should be affected by the question of the conquest or submission of the country in 1172, is inexpressibly astonishing. The invasion of Henry took place in that year; and the spoliation of Connaught was projected in 1636, that is, four hundred and sixty-four years afterwards.
Of what consequence could it have been as to the titles of estates, what was the character of the proceedings of Henry,—whether he received a submission or made a conquest? Suppose it a submission : does it thence follow that Charles I. had a right to an acre, or even a perch, of an estate that had descended from heir to heir, for the intermediate four centuries and a half? Suppose it invasion: does that enhance the strength of the claim ? Had every man, woman, and child, in the whole nation been subdued by, and sworn allegiance to, Henry II. or, to give the argument its utmost force, Henry VII. could that warrant a jury in finding a title in the crown to the whole of the soil; or justify the imposition of a fine of four thousand pounds sterling on each of the jury, for not finding such title? Could any thing but the most rampant spirit of rapine ever lay a claim on such wretched ground, or any thing but insanity or obliquity of mind ever undertake the palliatioả of the vile deed
Leland is not so culpable as Carte. Nevertheless he cannot be defended; for he narrates, without the slightest censure, this Connaught spoliation, unsupported by letter-dropping, conspiracy, rebellion, or any accusation of not building houses or planting orchards.
Wentworth, bold, daring and desperate, was rejoiced at the rejec, tion of the claim of the crown by the Galway jury. His grand object being plunder, and fearing no resistance, or, determined to dragoon the estated gentlemen into submission, if they dared resist, he contemplated seizing on the whole of the estates of the jurors, and one
conceiving it would be of ill example to the rest of the kingdom, and would retard, if not defeat, the execution of his project, caused the jurors to be prosecuted, for a combination with the sheriff who empannelled them, to defeat the king of his right. They were tried on the 27th of May, 1636; FINED FOUR THOUSAND POUNDS A MAN; SENTENCED TO IMPRISONMENT TILL IT WAS PAID, AND TO AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT, UPON THEIR KNEES, IN COURT AND AT THE ASSIZES, OF THEIR OFFENCE, in refusing to find what they ought to have found, upon the evidence produced, and which their neighbours had actually found upon the same.950's
*Os Carte, I. 82.