Sir Edward Poynings

Poynings, Sir Edward, an English statesman, sent to Ireland in 1494 by King Henry VII. as Deputy for his son Henry (afterwards King Henry VIII.), then in his fourth year. The King had long been anxious concerning the independent attitude of the Irish Lords of the Pale, and their intrigues with Scotland and France, but thought it better to curb rather than weaken their power, lest the native Irish chiefs throughout the country should assert their complete independence. Poynings, who had already distinguished himself in diplomatic missions, landed at Howth on the 13th October 1494, having several English officers in his train, and 1,000 soldiers.

With the Earl of Ormond, he almost immediately marched north against the O'Donnells, but could not penetrate beyond the border territories of O'Hanlon and Magennis, which he devastated with fire and sword; he, however, reduced the castle of Carlow, held by the FitzGeralds. The Anglo-Irish Parliament met at Drogheda in December. All the royal grants made for the preceding one hundred and sixty-eight years were revoked; the family war cries, such as "Crom-a-boo" and "Butler-a-boo," were interdicted; it was enacted that none but Englishmen should be entrusted with the care of any royal castle in Ireland, and that a ditch should be thrown up to defend the Pale against the Irish on the borders.

Other laws were passed in this Parliament for the safety of the Anglo-Irish colony, amongst which was Poynings' Act, which has made his name memorable in Irish history. It extended the English law to Ireland, and subverted the independence of the Anglo-Irish Parliament, by providing that no Irish statutes should take effect until approved by the Viceroy and his Privy-Council, and sanctioned by the King and Council. It is known as 10 Henry VII. cap. 22. The enacting part is as follows: "All estatutes late made within the said realm of England, concerning or belonging to the common and publique weal of the same [shall] from henceforth be deemed good and effectuall in the law, and over that be acceptyd, used, and executed within this land of Ireland, in all points at all time requisite according to the tenor and effect of the same; and over that by authority aforesaid, that they and every of them be authorised, proved, and confirmed in this said land of Ireland." The Lords of the Pale were induced to pass the measure on the representation that it would be a protection against the legislative oppressions occasionally attempted by the Viceroys.

In the July 1495, Poynings made a successful expedition to relieve Waterford, then beleaguered by Warbeck and the Earl of Desmond. He took three of Warbeck's ships, and compelled him to retire to Scotland. It was part of his policy to propitiate by regular subsidies the chiefs whose territories bordered on the Pale, and to O'Byrne, O'Neill, MacMurrough, MacMahon, O'Conor, and other magnates, he gave presents of cloth, wine, arms, and money. The castle of Carlow was entrusted to the Kavanaghs, and Sir James Ormond's troops were kept up at a ruinous expense. Sir Edward was recalled in 1496. The date of his death is not mentioned.


170. Ireland, History of: Richard Cox. London, 1689.

314. Statutes, Public General, of the United Kingdom.

335. Viceroys of Ireland, History: John T. Gilbert. Dublin, 1865.