Confiscated Estates in Ireland

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXVIII

It was now discovered that the lands and lordships of De Burgo, adjacent to the Castle of Athlone, and, in fact, the whole remaining province, belonged to the crown. It would be useless here to give details of the special pleading on which this statement was founded; it is an illustration of what I have observed before, that the tenure of the English settler was quite as uncertain as the tenure of the Celt. The jury found for the King; and as a reward, the foreman, Sir Lucas Dillon, was graciously permitted to retain a portion of his own lands. Lowther, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, got four shillings in the pound of the first year's rent raised under the Commission of "Defective Titles." The juries of Mayo and Sligo were equally complacent; but there was stern resistance made in Galway, and stern reprisals were made for the resistance. The jurors were fined £4,000 each and were imprisoned, and their estates seized until that sum was paid. The sheriff was fined £1,000, and, being unable to pay that sum, he died in prison. And all this was done with the full knowledge and the entire sanction of the "royal martyr."

The country was discontented, and the Lord Deputy demanded more troops, " until the intended plantation should be settled." He could not see why the people should object to what was so very much for their own good, and never allowed himself to think that the disturbance had anything to do with the land question. The new proprietors were of the same opinion. Those who were or who feared to be dispossessed, and those who felt that their homes, whether humble or noble, could not be called their own, felt differently; but their opinion was as little regarded as their sufferings.

The Earl of Ormonde's property was next attacked, but he made a prudent compromise, and his party was too powerful to permit of its refusal. A Court of Wards was also established about this time, for the purpose of having all heirs to estates brought up in the Protestant religion; and a High Commission Court was instituted which rivalled the exactions of the Star Chamber in England.