The Remonstrance in Ireland

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXXI

Although it would seem to the ordinary observer that the Catholics had been dealt with severely, the dominant faction were still dissatisfied; and Ormonde was obliged to threaten a dissolution, and to expel some members for complicity in a plot to overthrow the English Government, which had just been discovered, and of which the ringleader was a man named Blood. It was now ascertained that the Cromwellian distribution of lands had been carried out with the most shameful injustice towards the very Government which had sanctioned it; and that the soldiers, who went with texts of Scripture on their lips, and swords in their hands, to destroy Popery, had cheated [3] their officers and self-elected rulers with shameless audacity.

The famous Remonstrance was drawn up about this time. It was prepared by Peter Walsh, a Franciscan friar, who was a protégé of Ormonde's, and who devoted more attention to politics than to his religious duties. The Remonstrance contained expressions which were by no means consonant with that pure Catholic feeling for which the Irish had been always remarkable; but it suited the Duke's purpose all the better, and he induced a considerable number of the nobility, and some of the clergy, to affix their signatures to it. They were little aware, in giving expression to the loyalty they so sincerely felt, that they were supposed to countenance disrespect to the Church which they so deeply revered. A synod of the Irish bishops and clergy was therefore held in Dublin, to consider the document, June 11th, 1666. Although ecclesiastics were then under the penal laws, and liable to suffer at any moment, Ormonde connived at the meeting, hoping that his ends would be thereby attained. He has himself left his object on record.

It was to "sow divisions among the clergy;" and Lord Orrery had written to him, being well aware of his plans, suggesting that this was a fitting time for their accomplishment. But the clergy were not so easily deceived; and even the miserable friar has left it on record, that out of 1,850 ecclesiastics, regular and secular, only sixty-nine signed the Remonstrance. The synod now prepared another document; and if the expression of loyalty was all that Ormonde required, he should have been fully satisfied; but, unfortunately, this was not the case, and he bided his time to avenge himself bitterly on the men who refused to sacrifice their conscience to his will.

During the same year (1660), the Irish sent over a contribution of 15,000 bullocks, to relieve the distress which occurred in London after the Great Fire. In return for their charity, they were assured that this was a mere pretence to keep up the cattle trade with England; and accordingly an Act was passed in which the importation of Irish cattle was forbidden, and termed a "nuisance," and language was used which, in the present day, would be considered something like a breach of privilege. The Duke of Buckingham, whose farming interests were in England, declared "that none could oppose the Bill, except such as had Irish estates or Irish understandings." Lord Ossory protested that "such virulence became none but one of Cromwell's counsellors;" and he being the eldest son of the Duke of Ormonde, and having Irish interests, opposed it. Several noble lords attempted to draw their swords. Ossory challenged Buckingham; Buckingham declined the challenge. Ossory was sent to the Tower; the word "nuisance" remained; some members of the "Cabal" said it should have been "felony;" and the Irish trade was crushed. Even the Puritan settlers in. Ireland began to rebel at this, for they, too, had begun to have " Irish interests," and could not quite see matters relative to that country in the same light as they had done when at the other side of the Channel. At last they became openly rebellious. Some soldiers mutinied for arrears of pay, and seized Carrickfergus Castle—ten of them were executed, and peace was restored; but the old Cromwellians, both in England and Ireland, gave considerable anxiety to the Government, and, indeed, it seems marvellous that they should not have revolted more openly and in greater force.


[3] Cheated.—Books were found in the office of the surveyor for the county Tipperary alone, in which only 50,000 acres were returned as unprofitable, and the adventurers had returned 245,207.—Carte's Ormonde, vol. ii. p. 307. "These soldiers," says Carte, "were for the most part Anabaptists, Independents, and Levellers." Equal roguery was discovered in other places.