Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXX

The Government, as it has been already remarked, reserved the best part of the land for themselves. They secured the towns, church-lands, and tithes, and abolished the Protestant Church, with all its officers, which had been so recently declared the religion of the country. A "Church of Christ" was now the established religion, and a Mr. Thomas Hicks was approved by the "Church of Christ" meeting at Chichester House, as one fully qualified to preach and dispense the Gospel as often as the Lord should enable him, and in such places as the Lord should make his ministry most effectual. The Parliament also reserved for themselves the counties of Dublin, Kildare, Carlow, and Cork; and from these lands and the church property they were to enrich themselves, and, with what they could spare, to reward the leading regicides and rebels.

The adventurers were next provided for. They claimed £960,000. This was divided into three lots, to be paid in lands in Munster, Leinster, and Ulster. All these were to be drawn by lot; and a lottery was held at Grocers' Hall, London, which commenced at eight o'clock in the morning, on the 20th of July, 1653, at which time and place men who professed the advancement of the Christian religion to be the business of their lives, openly and flagrantly violated the most solemn and explicit commands of that very belief which they declared themselves so zealous in upholding. The soldiers and officers were to obtain whatever was left after the adventurers had been satisfied.

A book was written by a Franciscan father, called Threnodia Hiberno-Catholica, sive Planctus Universalis totius Cleri et Populi Regni Hiberniae, [9] in which the writer states he had heard a great Protestant statesman give three reasons why this transplantation was confined to the gentry, and why the poor, who had not been either transported or hanged, were allowed to remain: (1) because the English wanted them to till the ground; (2) they hoped they would become Protestants when deprived of their priests; (3) because the settlers required servants, or else they should have worked for themselves.

But the fatal day at length arrived, and those who had dared to linger, or to hope that so cruel a sentence would not be finally executed, were at once undeceived. The commissioners had been in trouble all the winter: the people who were to be driven out of their farms refused to sow for those who were to succeed them; and the very plotters of the iniquity began to tremble for the consequences which might accrue to themselves. They fasted, they prayed, and they wrote pages of their peculiar cant, which would be ludicrous were it not profane. They talked loudly of their unworthiness for so great a service, but expressed no contrition for wholesale robbery. Meanwhile, however, despite cant, fasts, and fears, the work went on. The heads of each family were required to proceed to Loughrea before the 31st of January, 1654, to receive such allotments as the commissioners pleased to give them, and that they might erect some kind of huts on these allotments, to shelter their wives and daughters when they arrived.

The allotment of land was proportioned to the stock which each family should bring; but they were informed that, at a future day, other commissioners were to sit at Athlone, and regulate even these regulations, according to their real or supposed affection or disaffection to the Parliament. All this was skilfully put forward, that the unfortunate people might transplant the more quietly, in the hope of procuring thereby the good-will of their tyrants; but the tyrants were quite aware that the stock would probably die from the fatigue of transportation and the want of food; then the land could be taken from the victim, and, as a last favour, he might be allowed to remain in the poor hut he had erected, until misery and disease had terminated his life also.


[9] Hiberniae.—The Wail of the Irish Catholics; or, Groans of the Whole Clergy and People, &c. By Father Maurice Morison, of the Minors of Strict Observance, an eyewitness of these cruelties. Insbruck, A.D. 1659. This religious had remained in Ireland, like many of his brethren, in such complete disguise, that their existence was not even suspected. In order to minister the more safely to their afflicted people, they often hired as menials in Protestant families, and thus, in a double sense, became the servants of all men. Father Maurice was in the household of Colonel Ingolsby, the Parliamentary Governor of Limerick.