Confiscation of Land

Justin McCarthy
Chapter V | Start of Chapter

More estates were confiscated to the Crown, and the land thus obtained was parcelled out on the cheapest terms of holding to English nobles, and also to mere English adventurers, who undertook to colonize it with workmen and traders from England. But it was soon found that English traders and labourers were not easily to be persuaded into the risks of a settlement under these conditions, and the new owners were compelled in most cases either to put up with such labour as the country afforded or to allow the soil to lie barren for the time. The scheme which the rulers had in mind—a scheme which meant nothing less than the substitution of an English for an Irish population—proved a failure. An English nobleman endowed with the spirit of adventure might be tempted to accept an estate in Ireland on the chance of making a brilliant career there, winning the favour of his Sovereign, and becoming a great figure in the eyes of his own Court and his own country. A mere adventurer might be as ready to try his fortunes in Ireland as in some unexplored part of the new world beyond the Atlantic. But the ordinary trader or working man of English birth and ways did not at that time feel inclined to give up his business and his home to venture on a settlement in that wild western island, where all reports told him that every man's hand was against every other man, and that the loyal subjects of the Queen were hunted like wild game by the uncivilized Irish.

Sir John Perrot was not a man qualified to make the situation any better than he had found it. A man of quick and violent temper, he succeeded in making enemies of some of the Irish Chieftains who had lately been coming over to the service of the Crown, and converted some of his friends in office into his most bitter enemies. Sir John Perrot had to be withdrawn, and a new Deputy appointed in his place. Such a representative of English government was not likely to encourage many of the Irish Chieftains to accept the advances of an English Deputy or to believe that they could secure safety for themselves and their lands by submitting to his rule. The new Deputy, Sir William Russell, had a hard task before him.