“Informacion de credence pur le message envoiez à Engleterre” addressed to the newly crowned King Henry IV by Alexander de Balscot, Guardian of Ireland and the Council in the Year 1399

Eleanor Hull
Volume I, Appendix IV

Item. McMurghe [MacMorrogh of Leinster] is at open war, and is now gone to aid the Earl of Dessemond [Desmond] to destroy the Earl of Ormond if they can; and afterwards to return with all the power they can gather from Munster to destroy the Pale. O’Nelle [O’Neill] has assembled a great host to make war unless he have delivered to him his son, his cousins, and other hostages now in the castle of Dublin.

Item. There are no soldiers for the defence of the land and no money to pay them.

Item. The Irish enemies are strong and arrogant and of great power; the English marchers are unwilling to ride against them.

Item. The English families who are in rebellion, as the Butyllers [Butlers], Powers, Geraldines, Berminghames, Daltons, Barretts, Dillons, and others, oppress and spoil the liege people; and will needs be called gentlemen of blood, whereas they are sturdy robbers and not amenable to the law.

Item. These said English rebels are accomplices of the Irish enemies, and will not displease them, and thereby the loyal English are destroyed and injured.

Item. The King hath no profit of the revenues of the land, because no officer dare put the law into execution.

Item. Many counties obedient to the law are not in the King’s hand, except Dublin and part of Kildare; for Uriel with its sheriff and escheator, the fee-farm of Drogheda, and all other profits, forfeitures, fees, wards, marriages, fee-farms, custom, coket, and all other sources of revenue are given to other persons. From County Midhe [Meath], the Liberty of an Earl Palatine; Ulster, a Liberty given to others; County Wexford, a Liberty of Lord de Grey; County Cork the Liberty of an Earl Palatine; County Tipperary, the Liberty of the Earl of Ormond—the King gets nothing. Also from the Counties of Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, Kerry, Limerick, Connaght, Roscoman, through default of obedience and execution of law, and by rebellion of enemies—the King has nothing.

Item. The coket and custom and fee-farm of Waterford is given for twenty years to the Mayor and Bailiffs to enclose the town, and little is done.

Item. All the profits of the land, as well manors as lands, rents, etc. are given to others, so that no profit comes to the Exchequer.

Item. Many fees and annuities are given both to Irish and English to the great and insupportable charge of the Exchequer.

Item. As regards the officers of the Exchequer, no Baron there is learned in the Law, as great need should be.

Item. The customs and cokets used to be a great part of the revenue, and now little comes to the King, because sundry of them are due to others, and the Customer has the office of Collector for the term of his life and takes yearly fifty pounds.