THE ULSTER PLANTATION (3)

The scheme adopted for the plantation of Ulster was not the invention of anyone but was the outcome of the statesmanship of the age. Just such ideas as Bacon expressed in his Considerations presented to King James run all through the State Papers of this period. So early as October 2, 1605, long before the Flight of the Earls, Chichester wrote that the situation "can only be remedied by planting of English and others well affected in fit places." Chichester held that none of the fields in which colonization was then projected equalled Ireland. He remarks that he "knows of many who endeavor the finding out of Virginia, Guiana, and other remote and unknown countries, and leave this of our own waste and desolate, which needs be an absurd folly or wilful ignorance." The allusion to Sir Walter Raleigh's projects is transparent. As a matter of fact both the Ulster and the Virginia plantations took root and bore abundantly, each deeply affecting the other's destiny. On September 17, 1607, less than a fortnight after the Flight of the Earls, Chichester advised the English Privy Council that to bring Ulster to any settled state of order it would be necessary either to plant strong "colonies of civil people of England or Scotland" or else drive out the wild Irishmen to the waste lands "leaving only such people behind as will dwell under the protection of the garrisons and forts which would be made strong and defensible." He strongly recommended the former course although he held the latter to be justifiable. At that period "civil" had a significance for which the term "civilized" would now be employed. The term "civilization" did not get into the vocabulary until long afterward, and so late as 1772 it was resisted by Dr. Samuel Johnson as an unnecessary innovation which he refused to admit into his dictionary. When Bacon and Chichester spoke of introducing civility into Ireland they had in mind substituting legally organized communities for the tribal groups.

The home Government was quite ready to act upon the suggestion and the response was prompt and decided. The Chief Secretary of State was Robert Cecil, a cousin of Francis Bacon. Cecil had served Elizabeth as Secretary of State and had been continued in the position with augmented power by James, who in 1605 conferred upon him the title of Earl of Salisbury. In advance of the action of the English Privy Council, Salisbury wrote to Chichester assuring him of support and on September 29, 1607, the ground plan of the Ulster plantation was thus formulated in a communication from the Privy Council to Chichester:

"For the plantation which is to follow upon attainder, the King in general approves of his (Chichester's) project, being resolved to make a mixture of the inhabitants, as well Irish as English and Scotch; to respect and favor the Irish that are of good note and desert, and to make him (Chichester) specially judge thereof; to prefer English that are and have been servitors before any new men from hence; to assign places of most importance to men of best trust; and generally to observe these two cautions;—first, that such as be planted there be not needy, but of a reasonable sufficiency to maintain their portions; secondly, that none shall have a vast, but only a reasonable proportion; much less that any one of either nation shall be master of a whole country. But before this plantation can be digested and executed, much must be prepared by himself (Chichester), as His Majesty is to be better informed of the lands to be divided; what countries are most meet to be inhabited; what Irish fit to be trusted; what English meet for that plantation in Ireland; what offers are or will be made there; what estates are fit to be granted; and what is to be done for the conviction of the fugitives, because there is no possession or estate to be given before their attainder."

The tenor of official dispatches makes it clear that the Flight of the Earls was regarded as a good opportunity for radical treatment of the Ulster situation, "that those countries be made the King's by this accident," to use Salisbury's own words. By the term "servitors" is meant officers in the King's service in Ireland, who knew the country and had had experience in dealing with the natives. The need of careful management was appreciated by the Government, for in the preceding reign three attempts had been made at Ulster colonization, all ending in total failure. These had been in the nature of grants of territory to individual adventurers who undertook to take possession and bring in tenants, but who were unable to overcome the resistance of the native Irish, desperately opposed to the intrusion of individual holdings in their tribal territory. The Government was determined that the next attempt of the kind should be made in sufficient force.

The information demanded by the home Government was submitted under date of January 23, 1608, in "a project for the division and plantation of the escheated lands," etc., prepared by the Privy Council of Ireland. This is a long document in which for the first time the plantation scheme took definite form. It included a schedule of available lands in the six escheated counties, with a scheme of allotment. The different classes of Undertakers and the size of their holdings to be allowed to them were designated, and the main points of the scheme as finally carried into effect were set forth.

Not long after the transmission of this project the O'Dogherty rebellion broke out. With its suppression work on the project was resumed and in September, 1608, Chichester prepared a detailed statement entitled Certain Notes of Remembrances Touching the Plantation and Settlement of the Escheated Lands in Ulster, which he gave to Chief Justice Ley and Attorney-General Davies as their instructions in sending them to England to confer with the King and Privy Council. This was a soldier's review of the Ulster situation, county by county, noting the force and disposition of the natives, and mentioning the places that should be strongly occupied to guard the peace of the plantation.

The outcome of these reports and conferences was the publication of Orders and Conditions To Be Observed by the Undertakers issued by the King and Privy Council in March, 1609. The preamble sets forth that "many persons being ignorant of the conditions whereupon His Majesty is pleased to grant the said land are importunate suitors for greater portions than they are able to plant, intending their private profit only and not the advancement of the public service." The orders then set forth conditions of allotment and occupation similar in general to those proposed in the project of January 23, 1608, framed by the Irish Privy Council.

From now on the course of events spreads out in Ireland, England and Scotland, and an attempt to follow chronological order would confuse the narrative. A chronology appended to this chapter gives the sequence of events, but comment upon them can be made most conveniently by a topical arrangement.

While the home Government was arranging to responsible Undertakers, the Irish Administration was busy getting the lands ready for occupation. On July 21, 1609, a new commission, with Chichester himself at the head, was appointed to survey the country and mark fit places for settlement. The letters of Davies, who was on this commission, give a picturesque account of its proceedings. It was accompanied by surveyors who worked under guard, for "our geographers," wrote Davies, "do not forget what entertainment the Irish gave to a map-maker about the end of the late rebellion." When he "came into Tyrconnell the inhabitants took off his head, because they would not have their country discovered." The thoroughness with which the commissioners did their work is attested by the completeness of their records. Abstracts of title were made, and detailed maps were prepared, for which there is still so much demand that the British Government issues facsimile copies, with the exception of the map of Donegal which has been lost. On June 5, 1610, Chichester received the King's warrant to prepare a new commission to put the settlers in possession and on August 28, 1610, this commission issued a proclamation that the allotted lands were open for occupation.

Meanwhile Court influence had been exerted to induce the City of London to take part in the enterprise. At that time London was still a medieval city, surrounded by walls the gates of which were shut at a certain hour. The population was less than 250,000, and even this number was regarded as overcrowding the area so as to invite outbreaks of the plague, deaths from which cause in London amounted to 30,561 in 1603. One of the arguments used in support of colonization projects was that they would, draw off surplus population and thus avert the periodical visitations of the plague. The importance of London was very much greater than the size of its population might suggest, for it was the privileged seat of great chartered companies, whose transactions ranged far abroad. In that period a municipal corporation was not so much a governing body in the modern sense as a mercantile body. It was interested in trade for the advantage of the burgesses far more than in administration of public affairs for the benefit of the inhabitants. Judicial and administrative functions were vigorously exercised as an incident of charter privileges and for their protection, but the conception of a public trusteeship for the general welfare was still undeveloped.

It was not until 1684 that the lighting of the streets was made a public function. The dirty and turbulent town was a mixture of squalor and magnificence, but its merchant princes were a recognized power in the State and the King and his Council were anxious to interest them in the Ulster project. One difficulty in the way was that schemes of American colonization were then attracting business adventure. Much was known about Ireland; it was a stale subject fraught with disagreeable associations. Little was known of America, and impressions originally derived from the East attached to it, as the term "West Indies" still bears witness, as also the common appellation of the American aborigines. The mention of Ireland called up notions of hard knocks and poor gains, while concerning America there were vague but alluring notions compounded of traditional belief in the gorgeous opulence of India, of genuine trade knowledge of the value of its products, and of rumors of vast treasure gained by the Spanish in America. Among the corporate powers of the London Company that founded Jamestown in May, 1607, was the right to search for mines and to coin money. No such golden lure could be held out in behalf of Ireland. It was felt that special efforts were necessary to impress upon the City magnates the business advantages to be derived from Irish colonization.

The King had a statement prepared for the purpose entitled Motives and Reasons To Induce the City of London To Undertake Plantation in the North of Ireland. An appeal is made to civic pride by citing "the eternal commendation" gained by Bristol, which city in the reign of Henry II. rebuilt and populated Dublin, and the hope is expressed that "this noble precedent were followed by the City of London in these times." The King desired that London do for Derry what Bristol did for Dublin, and he submits a detailed statement of the natural resources, industrial opportunities and commercial facilities of the north of Ireland, which in view of actual results does not seem to be much inflated. His assertion that materials for the linen trade are "finer there and more plentiful than in all the rest of the Kingdom" was eventually borne out by the establishment of the linen industry for which the North of Ireland has since been famous. This appeal together with the project of plantation as formulated in Orders and Conditions To Be Observed by Undertakers, was sent to the Lord Mayor, who, on July 1, 1609, issued a precept to the chartered companies requesting that they meet to consider the subject and also to nominate four men from each company to serve on a committee to represent the City in the negotiation.

The City companies were apparently reluctant to engage in the enterprise, and a few years later when some differences occurred as to the terms of the bargain, it was officially declared that the City had at last yielded to pressing importunity. The record shows that the companies did not move until a second and more urgent precept was issued, dated July 8, 1609. The companies then sent representatives to meet at Guildhall to discuss the King's proposals and deputies were appointed to answer for the City. Several conferences took place between these deputies and the Privy Council, hut the most that the City magnates would agree to do was to look into the matter. At a conference with the Privy Council held on Sunday, July 30, 1609, it was decided that the negotiations should he suspended until "four wise, grave and discreet citizens should he presently sent to view the place." They were to go at the City's charges and "make report to the City, at their return from thence, of their opinions and doings touching the same."

The official correspondence of that period reveals the solicitude of the King and Privy Council for the successful conclusion of the negotiation with the City. On August 3, 1609, the Privy Council wrote to Chichester notifying him that the City was sending out certain deputies to view the land and instructing him to provide such guidance as would impress upon them the value of the concessions, while "matters of distaste, as fear of the Irish, of the soldiers, of cess, and such like, he not so much as named." These citizens of London, John Brode, goldsmith, John Monroes, Robert Treswell, painter, and John Rowley, draper, doubtless found themselves much courted and flattered by the dignitaries to whom they bore letters of introduction. In a letter of August 28, written from camp in Coleraine, to Lord Salisbury of the Privy Council, Davies tells how they were all using "their best rhetoric" on the Londoners. He mentions that "one of the agents is fallen sick, and would fain return, but the Lord Deputy and all the rest here use all means to comfort and retain him, lest this accident should discourage his fellow-citizens."

However flattered the citizens may have been by these blandishments their business keenness was not impaired. On October 13, 1609, Chichester writes that "these agents aim at all the places of profit and pleasure upon the rivers of the Bann and Loughfole." He had endeavored to meet their demands "whereby he thinks they depart fully satisfied." But the soldier evidently does not repose entire confidence in the disposition of the civic bargainers, for he remarks that "he prays God they prove not like their London women, who sometimes long to-day and loathe to-morrow." But the citizens evidently made a favorable report to the City guilds for in the following January three conferences took place in London between the Government and the City in which the City's representatives showed an eager spirit. The City deputies that went to Ireland were present and the course of the proceedings showed that they had prompted demands beyond what the Government had thought of allowing. The minutes record that on some points there was "much altercation." The representatives of the Government showed an accommodating spirit and eventually an agreement was reached confirmed by articles signed January 28, 1610. In consideration of various privileges the City agreed to levy £20,000 in aid of the proposed plantation. The county of Coleraine, thereafter known as Londonderry, was allotted to the City for colonization, and it was stipulated that the city of Derry and the town of Coleraine should be rebuilt. The agreement is set forth in twenty-seven articles, concluding with the provision that "the City shall, with all speed, set forward the plantation in such sort as that there be 60 houses built in Derry and 40 houses at Coleraine by the first of November following, with convenient fortifications."

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The Scotch-Irish in America cover

There ain’t nothing like the real thing — get the softcover second edition to read The Scotch-Irish in America at your leisure and help support this free Irish library. The author, Henry Jones Ford had this to say about the book:

“This book tells the story of the Ulster Plantation and of the influences that formed the character of the people. The causes are traced that led to the great migration from Ulster and the Scotch-Irish settlements in America are described. The recital of their experiences involves an account of frontier manners and customs, and of collisions with the Indian tribes. The influence of the Scotch-Irish settlements upon American institutions is traced, particularly in organizing and propagating the Presbyterian Church, in spreading popular education, and in promoting the movement for American national independence. In conclusion, there is an appreciation of the Ulster contribution to American nationality.”


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