Confiscation by Legal Craft, 1628-1641

From The Historic Case for Irish Independence by Darrell Figgis

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19. The greater part of Ireland was now planted. In some cases the undertakers were forbidden to employ Irishmen on the land, or to permit them to reside on the land. This it was found impossible to enforce. In other cases permissions were beset with careful restrictions. Sometimes the poorer parts of the land were set aside for its one-time possessors; but the Commissions appointed to administer such divisions left little remaining once their share had first been gathered. At first the province of Connacht was left untouched, till English law could prove its devious skill. In the closing decades of the fifteenth century, an English governor had undertaken a composition of that Province, and had granted its people titles in English tenure as part of the process of breaking the old polity. Therefore, the King of England now found himself opposed by titles apparently good in English law. Yet it was soon discovered that these titles, though good in themselves and quite clear as to their intention, had not been properly enrolled, owing to the fault of clerks in the Court of Chancery. Hence they were held invalid. Greatly alarmed, the people of the province offered a very large sum of money to make their titles good, seeking also that they should be relieved from the religious disability placed upon Catholics against practising in the courts. As the sum of money offered was about twelve times the amount likely to accrue from a Plantation, the offer was accepted. The money was paid, and duly received by the King. A few years afterwards the original claim on the ground of defective titles was renewed, despite the hard bargain that had been struck. The formal procedure of the law was, however, maintained. Actions at law at the suit of the Crown were entered against those who held land in Connacht. Jurors who failed to find for the Crown were thrown into prison and fined heavily. The sheriff who had chosen his jurors so unwisely was also thrown into prison, and died there. Then and thus the Crown came into possession, and the Plantation was ready to proceed, not this time by conquest, but by the strict letter of the law.

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