Sir Ralph Ufford

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXII

In 1334 Sir Ralph Ufford, who had married Maud Plantagenet, the widow of the Earl of Ulster, was appointed Justiciary of Ireland. He commenced with a high hand, and endeavoured especially to humble the Desmonds. The Earl refused to attend the Parliament, and assembled one of his own at Callan; but the new Viceroy marched into Leinster with an armed force, seized his lands, farmed them out for the benefit of the crown, got possession of the strongholds of Castleisland and Inniskisty in Kerry, and hanged Sir Eustace Poer, Sir William Grant, and Sir John Cottrell, who commanded these places, on the charge of illegal exactions of coigne and livery.[4] The Viceroy also contrived to get the Earl of Kildare into his power; and it is probable that his harsh measures would have involved England in an open war with her colony and its English settlers, had not his sudden death put an end to his summary exercise of justice.

It is said that his wife, Maud, who could scarcely forget the murder of her first husband, urged him on to many of these violent acts; and it was remarked, that though she had maintained a queenly state on her first arrival in Ireland, she was obliged to steal away from that country, with Ufford's remains enclosed in a leaden coffin, in which her treasure was concealed. Her second husband was buried near her first, in the Convent of Poor Clares, at Camposey, near Ufford, in Suffolk.


[4] Coigne and livery.—This was an exaction of money, food, and entertainment for the soldiers, and fodder for their horses. A tax of a similar kind existed among the ancient Irish; but it was part of the ordinary tribute paid to the chief, and therefore was not considered an exaction.