Elizabeth I. and Ireland

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXV

Shane O'Neill made an unsuccessful attempt to recover his paternal dominions, in 1557. The following year his father died in captivity,[1] in Dublin, and he procured the murder of Ferdoragh, so that he was able to obtain his wishes without opposition.

Elizabeth had now ascended the English throne (A.D. 1558), and, as usual, those in power, who wished to retain office, made their religion suit the views of the new ruler. The Earl of Sussex still continued Viceroy, and merely reversed his previous acts. Sir Henry Sidney also made his worldly interests and his religious views coincide. A Parliament was held in Dublin, in 1560, on the 12th of January. It was composed of seventy-six members, the representatives of ten counties, the remainder being citizens and burgesses of those towns in which the royal authority was predominant. "It is little wonder," observes Leland, "that, in despite of clamour and opposition, in a session of a few weeks, the whole ecclesiastical system of Queen Mary was entirely reversed." Every subject connected with this assembly and its enactments, demands the most careful consideration, as it has been asserted by some writers—who, however, have failed to give the proofs of their assertion—that the Irish Church and nation conformed at this time to the Protestant religion. This certainly was not the opinion of the Government officials, who were appointed by royal authority to enforce the Act, and who would have been only too happy could they have reported success to their mistress.


[1] Captivity.—Lord Chancellor Cusack addressed a very curious "Book on the State of Ireland" to the Duke of Northumberland, in 1552, in which he mentions the fearful condition of the northern counties. He states that "the cause why the Earl was detained [in Dublin Castle] was for the wasting and destroying of his county." This Sir Thomas Cusack, who took a prominent part in public affairs during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, was a son of Thomas Cusack, of Cassington, in Meath, an ancient Norman-Irish family, who were hereditary seneschals and sheriffs of that county.—Ulster Arch. Jour. vol. iii. p. 51.