Page images

lively enjoyed by them on the seventh of May 1659. Chap.

, , . . . XXVIII.

A third of the king's grants, with some exceptions, v-^—/ was retrenched; and, with consent of all the agents, the bill of explanation was at length presented to the privy council. Twenty catholics, left entirely to the choice of Ormond, were particularly mentioned in the bill as added to the list of nominees, persons nominated, as objecls of royal favour, to be restored to their estates without a trial. Great were the discontents of the catholics, since the new bill declared that the protestants were in the first place, and especially, to be settled; that any ambiguity, which might occur, should be interpreted in the sense most favourable to their interests; and that no catholic, who, by the qualifications of the former a6l, had not been adjudged innocent, should at any future time be entitled to claim lands or settlements on a plea of innocence. The authority of the court of claims had expired, when hardly more than six hundred, out of four thousand claims of innocency, had been decided, and of the rest of the claimants, excluded from all chance of a fair trial of their conduct, only twenty were to be restored by especial grace. Such ruin, beside the unutterable calamities of so many years war, had been brought on the catholics of Ireland, by the bigotry of those, who first planned and excited the rebellion for the exclusive establishment of the Romish religion! The task of nomination, imposed on Ormond, was invidious. His twenty nominees were allowed to be innocent; but others,


c, H A P. equally worthy of favour, could impute their dis>*^vWappointment only to his partiality. -Yet his conduct was so disinterested, that he had relinquished his own rights to forward a general accommodation, by paying the debts and mortgages on his estate, which had been contracted in the public service, and which, as forfeitures to the king, had been granted to the duke by the a6l of settlement.

Notwithstanding its partiality to the protestants, the bill of explanation was so far from being satisfacr tory to the Irish commons, that Ormond ventured not to lay it before their house, until, by filling the vacancies with members friendly to government, and alarming them with fears of a dissolution, he had rendered them more compliant. When, on the first day of their session, a letter from the king to the lord lieutenant was communicated to them, condemning their former proceedings and votes relative to the commissioners of claims, they made humble submission, retracted their votes, inveighed against the conspiracy, and suspended seven of their members, accused as accomplices, from sitting in their house. Though these members pleaded his Majesty's pardon, they were, after an examination of the evidence against them, expelled, and declared incapable of sitting in the present or any future parliament; nor, in their present rage of leyalty, could the commons be satisfied, till they had prepared a bill to disqualify these obnoxious men for the holding of any office, military, civil, or ecclesiastical.

siastical. Having; laid their doubts and obiections Chap.

. . XXVUI.

before Ormond in a petition concerning the bill of v settlement, and having received an assurance from him that every thing should be explained and amended according to their wishes, by the discre- tionary power entrusted to the chief governor and council, or by new a6ls if necessary, they at length, without one dissenting voice, passed this famous a£l, by which an invariable rule was finally fixed for the settlement of the kingdom, and the general regulation of the rights claimed by the several interests of its occupants.

Great obstacles had arisen to the arrangements necessary for this general settlement from various causes, especially the diminution of the fund for reprisals by profuse grants of the king, particularly to his brother, the duke of York, on whom he bad conferred all the estates of the regicides. Of a similar nature were some provisos in the a£t of explanation, particularly one by which the marquis of Antrim was reinstated in his property, by special favour of the king, through the interest of the queen mother, after a full conviction of his treasonable practices against his Majesty, and his own acknowledgment of his guilt, with a petition to the royal mercy. After the completion of the act, many evasions were attempted in its execution by the procuring of grants and letters from the king, which, with a multitude of perplexed cases, gave perpetual employment ployment for many years to Ormond, to whom, as lord lieutenant, assisted by the privy council, the five commissioners, appointed to execute the statute, were ordered to resort for advice in all affairs of doubt and difficulty.




AB prohibiting the importation of Irish cattle into EnglandDiscontentsSubscription of beevesCommerical affairsIntrigues against OrmondChange of politicsBerkleyTheological question RemonstranceAnti-remonstrantsAlarms of the protestantsCatholic petitionAddress of the English parliamentAdministration of EssexConduB of OrmondAttempt of BloodRestoration of Onnond to the lord lieutenancyPopish plot Defective evidencesOliver PlunketSteadiness and caution of Ormond—Death of OssoryChange of measuresFluctuationDeath of Charles the second.

WHEN, by the a6ls of settlement and explana- c"af. tion, tranquility seemed established, and a firm v~"v-'

*" , Non-im

foundation laid for prosperity in future, the new potion English c olony of Ireland felt immediately the bad 1666. efiects of national jealousy, narrow, impolitic, and absurd, so often displayed by the English parliament, and soon afterward the still more baleful consequences of plans formed by unprincipled statesmen for the establishment of despotism on the basis of popery. From several causes obviously observable,


« PreviousContinue »