Sir John Perrot

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXVII

Immense rewards were now offered for the capture of the Geraldine leaders, but their faithful followers would not be bribed. John was at length seized, through the intervention of a stranger. He was wounded in the struggle, and died immediately after; but his enemies wreaked their vengeance on his remains, which were gibbeted at Cork. The Earl of Desmond was assassinated on the 11th of November, 1583, and the hopeless struggle terminated with his death. He had been hunted from place to place like a wild beast, and, according to Hooker, obliged to dress his meat in one place, to eat it in another, and to sleep in a third. He was surprised, on one occasion, while his soldiers were cooking their mid-day meal, and five-and-twenty of his followers were put to the sword; but he escaped, and fled to Kerry, where he was apprehended and slain.

His head was sent to Elizabeth, and impaled on London-bridge, according to the barbarous practice of the time. His body was interred in the little chapel of Kilnamaseagh, near Castleisland. Complaints of the extreme severity of Lord Grey's administration had been sent to the English court. Even English subjects declared that he had "left her Majesty little to reign over but carcasses and ashes." He was therefore recalled. The administration was confided to Loftus, the Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, and Sir Henry Wallope, and an amnesty was proclaimed. Sir Thomas Norreys was appointed Governor of Munster, and Sir Richard Bingham, Governor of Connaught. In 1584 Sir John Perrot was made Deputy, and commenced his career by executing Beg O'Brien, who had taken an active part in the late insurrections, at Limerick, with a refinement of cruelty, as "a warning to future evil-doers."

In 1585 Perrot held a Parliament in Dublin, from which, however, no very important enactments proceeded. Its principal object appears to have been the confiscation of Desmond's estates. This was opposed by many of the members; but the crown was determined to have them, and the crown obtained them. Thus lands to the extent of 574,628 acres were ready for new adventurers. The most tempting offers were made to induce Englishmen to plant; estates were given for twopence an acre; rent was only to commence after three years. No Irish families were to be admitted as tenants, though their labours might be accepted or compelled. English families were to be substituted in certain proportions; and on these conditions, Raleigh, Hatton, Norris, St. Leger, and others, obtained large grants. The Irish question was to be settled finally, but somehow it was not settled, though no one seemed exactly prepared to say why.

Meanwhile Sir Richard Bingham was opposing the conciliatory policy of the Deputy, and hanged seventy persons at one session in Galway, in January, A.D. 1586. Perrot interfered; but the Burkes, who had been maddened by Bingham's cruelties, broke out into open rebellion; and he pointed to the revolt which he had himself occasioned, as a justification of his former conduct. The Scotch now joined the Burkes, but were eventually defeated by the President, the Irish annalists say, with the loss of 2,000 men. Another bloody assize was held in Galway, where young and old alike were victims.