Sir William Drury

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Drury, Sir William, an English officer, the particulars of whose early life will be found detailed in Froude's English History, was in November 1576 appointed President of Munster. He signalized his advent to office by holding itinerant courts. At Cork, by his own account, he hanged forty-three "notable malefactors;" one he pressed to death; two were drawn and quartered. At Limerick he disposed of twenty-two. At Kilkenny he executed thirty-six; three — "a blackamoor and two witches" — he put to death "by natural law, for that he found no law to try them by in the realm." Reporting to Government, he apologized for his general moderation: "I have chosen rather with the snail slenderly to creep, than with the horse swiftly to run." In the second year of his office he hanged 400 "by justice and martial law." He hanged a friar in his habit for attempting to leave the country; and he hanged a brehon, "who," he says, "was much esteemed among the common people, and taught such laws as were repugnant to her Majesty's." Remarking upon these atrocities, Mr. Froude says: "The appointment of the Presidents, and their hard and cruel rule, showed the chiefs that the fine speeches at Sidney's reception had been but an affectation to delude them into quiet, while English authority was establishing itself." In October 1579 Drury was defeated with a loss of 300 men, by the Desmonds near Kilmallock; and worn out by the fatigues of campaigning, he died at Cork shortly afterwards, having been President for nearly three years.


140. Froude, James A.: History of England, from the Fall of Wolsey to the death of Elizabeth. 12 vols. London, 1862-'70.

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