Rosen's Reply to King James II.

From Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689 by Thomas Witherow

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CHAPTER IV...continued

Even King James was not gratified by this piece of service on the part of Rosen. It was done without consulting him; it set at nought his declaration and the protections granted to the Protestants; and Rosen he thought took too much upon him in making himself surety for the conditions offered to the city. He forwarded immediately to Rosen the following reproof:—

"TRUSTY AND WELL-BELOVED,—We have received your project, and we wished we had seen it before you had issued any orders to put it in execution. We are thoroughly persuaded that you have seen none of the declarations, in which we have promised our protection not only to those who choose to submit to us and live peaceably at home, but also to all those who choose to return to their habitations and behave as good subjects for the future; as we are convinced in that case you would not have issued orders so contrary to our intentions and promises. It is positively our will that you do not put your project into execution, so far as it regards the men, women, and children, of whom you speak; but on the contrary that you send them back to their habitations without any injury to their persons. But with regard to your project of pillaging and ravaging the neighbourhood of Londonderry in case you are obliged to raise the siege, we approve of it as necessary to distress our enemies. We belive your presence so necessary for the success of our arms before Londonderry, that it is our pleasure you remain there till further orders; in the meantime you are to inform us continually of your situation, that we may be able to give our orders concerning what you ought to do. We pray God may take you, trusty and well-beloved, under His protection. Given at our Court, at Dublin Castle, this 3rd day of July, 1689, and in the 5th year of our reign. By His Majesty's command.                                                MELFORT."

Rosen was evidently mortified by this reproof, for he wrote to His Majesty the following reply:—

"SIRE,—I have received the letter which your Majesty did me the honour to write to me, the 3rd inst., by which I see that your Majesty is always full of benevolence towards the rebels of this kingdom. Their own conviction of this encourages them in insolence, to which they are carried every day, and in the hopes that your Majesty will have compassion upon them in the distresses to which they may be reduced; yet the troops are ruined, and the rebels will receive relief, which will oblige your Majesty to abandon everything. I imagined that I might have induced them to surrender by threatening them as I have done, but that has produced no effect. It is true, I have not put my project in execution, and that perhaps is the reason why we are not yet further advanced. For I have presented before their gates but a small number of their accomplices, to try if that would make any impression on them; but they have had the cruelty to fire upon them and to refuse them every kind of assistance; for which reason I sent them back to their habitations, after having made them comprehend the difference between your Majesty's clemency and the cruel treatment of their own party.

"I shall conform to the orders your Majesty has done me the honour to send me, to stay in the army and destroy the neighbourhood of Londonderry, in case Mr. Hamilton shall be obliged to raise the siege."[41]

The amount of "benevolence" which His Majesty was disposed to show the "rebels," and his motive for it, may be estimated by his letter of instructions to Hamilton, issued on the 5th of July, of which the following is an extract:—

"You shall let them know, that if they do not now yield to such propositions as you shall offer to them, we will hereafter exclude them from ever partaking of our mercy. You are to endeavour to give them as little as possible can be. But, rather than not get the town delivered to us, you shall give them their lives, fortunes, our royal pardon for all that is past, and protections, as other our subjects have in time; and that none shall dare to trouble or molest them, in their houses, estates, persons, religions or professions whatever, they delivering the city into our possession," etc.

The King when told of this unpleasant incident by the Earl of Granard, said he was grieved for it; that he had sent orders to countermand it; and that "none but a barbarous Muscovite could have thought of so cruel a contrivance." He was so very much dissatisfied with Rosen's conduct on this occasion, that on the 15th of July he applied to the King of France to have him recalled.[42]

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[41] Macpherson Papers, vol. i., pp. 210-213.

[42] Leslie, p. 100; Avaux, pp. 257 and 309; Macpherson, i. 310.

William R. Young’s Fighters of Derry has for decades been one of the most overlooked works on the Siege of Derry and as a local genealogical resource. First published in 1932, the book was the product of ten years’ research into identifying participants at the siege which the author undertook when suffering from ill-health in the latter part of his life.

The book is essentially divided into two parts: the first contains 1660 biographical entries relating to the defenders of Derry, tracing, where possible, the family lineage; and the second part includes 352 entries on the Jacobite side. Apart from individual accounts of eminent protagonists in the siege, such as David Cairnes, Rev. George Walker, the Duke of Schomberg, Patrick Sarsfield, etc., there is also background given to many of the most influential families involved in the conflict.