A Memoir on Ireland Native and Saxon

Daniel O’Connell, 1843 

Observations, Proofs, and Illustrations

Chapter III - Part II

Assault on Drogheda, 1649

Return to Documentation page
Return to main index
Links on Daniel O'Connell
Links on the Ulster Plantation
Links to Cromwell and the Restoration
Cromwell's Letters
Timeline of Irish History

I am not writing the history in detail of the civil war. I am merely justifying my statement in the text. No person can deny that the cause of the King had now become identified with that of the Irish Catholics.

Now for the cruelties perpetrated by the English Protestant parliamentarians and Cromwellians.

My first extract is from a Protestant clergyman – the historian Leland. He shows the design with which these cruelties were committed.

“The favourable object of the Irish Governors, and the English parliament, was the utter EXTERMINATION OF ALL THE CATHOLIC INHABITANTS OF IRELAND. Their estates were already marked out and allotted to their conquerors; so that they and their posterity were consigned to inevitable ruin.” – Leland, Book V. chap 4.

My second quotation establishing the same fact is from another Protestant clergyman named Rev. Dr. Warner.

“It is evident from their” [the Lords Justices] last letter to the Lieutenant, that they hoped for an EXTIRPATION, not of mere Irish only, but of all the old English families that were Roman Catholics.”- Warner’s History of the Rebellion and Civil War in Ireland, p. 176.

Upon this subject -  namely, the design of UTTER EXTIRPATION – my next quotation is from the equally undeniable authority of Lord Clarendon.

“The parliament party… had grounded their own authority and strength upon such foundations as were inconsistent with any toleration of the Roman Catholic religion, and even with any humanity to the Irish nation, and more especially to those of the old native extraction, THE WHOLE RACE WHEREOF THEY HAD UPON THE MATTER SWORN TO EXTIRPATE.” – Lord Clarendon, I. p. 215.

This hideous determination of massacre was occasionally somewhat relaxed when the fortunes of the parliamentarians waned; it was relaxed, however, only to be renewed with redoubled alacrity when their fortunes prospered again. The following is from Carte’s Ormond:-

“Mr. Brent lately landed here, and hath brought with him such letters as have somewhat changed the face of this Government from what it was, when the parliament pamphlets were received as oracles, their commands obeyed as laws, and EXTIRPATION PREACHED FOR GOSPEL.” – Carte’s Ormond, III. 170.

There were two objects to be gratified by the English Protestant rulers of the day. The first was the increase in plunder to themselves in the confiscation of the estates of the Catholics. The second was the indiscriminate slaughter of those Catholics, without any distinction of age, sex, rank, or condition. The following accusation – fully borne out by the facts – is quoted from the same English Protestant historian, Carte:-

“There is too much reason to think, that as the Lord’s Justices really wished the rebellion to spread, and more gentlemen of estates to be involved in it, THAT THE FORFEITURES MIGHT BE THE GREATER, AND A GENERAL PLANTATION BE CARRIED ON BY A NEW SET OF ENGLISH PROTESTANTS ALL OVER THE KINGDOM, TO THE RUIN AND EXPULSION OF ALL THE OLD ENGLISH AND NATIVES THAT WERE ROMAN CATHOLICS; so, to promote what they wished, they gave out such a design, and that in a short time there would not be a Roman Catholic left in the kingdom. It is no small confirmation of this notion, that the Earl of Ormond, in his letters of January 27th, and February 25th, 1641-2, to Sir W. St. Leger, imputes the general revolt of the nation, then far advanced, to the publishing of such a design: and when a person of his great modesty and temper, the most averse in his nature to speak his sentiments of what he could not but condemn in others, and who, when obliged to do so, does it always in the gentlest opinion, the case must be very notorious. I do not find that the copies of those letters are preserved; but the original of Sir William St. Leger’s, in answer to them, sufficiently shows it to be his Lordship’s opinion; for after acknowledging the receipt of these two letters, he useth these words: ‘The undue promulgation of that severe DETERMINATION TO EXTIRPATE THE IRISH AND PAPACY OUT OF THE KINGDOM, YOUR LORDSHIP RIGHTLY APPREHENDS TO BE TOO UNSEASONABLY PUBLISHED.’ “ Carte’s Orm. I. 263.

This St. Leger was himself one of the chief extirpators: and I pray the reader to observe that he does not at all condemn the system of massacring the Irish to the last man. The only thing that he finds fault with is the unseasonable publication of the purpose to do so. It will, however, be more clearly understood what his real dispositions were, from a letter written by Lord Upper Ossory, quoted by Carte, in which the writer says,-

“That Sir William St. Leger” (who was Lord President of Munster) “was so cruel and merciless, that he caused men and women to be most execrably executed; and that he ordered, among others, a woman great with child to be ripped up, from whose womb three babes were taken out; through every of whose little bodies his soldiers thrust their weapons; which act” (adds Lord Upper Ossory) “put many in a sort of desperation.” – Carte’s Ormond, vol. III. P. 51.

I only implore Englishmen and Protestants to read these extracts from Protestant historians, and to reflect how much disrepute they fling upon Protestantism in general, and the English nation in particular. If they had such a case to make in point of fact against the Catholics, we should never hear the end of it!

But as the cruelties of individuals will bring the fact more pointedly before the mind, and cause its more easy retention in the recollection, I will select some specimens of the sçavoir faire of that Sir Charles Coote whom I have mentioned in the text. To work out the purposes of the English Government, power of life and death was given to him. Mark the following description of him and his cruelties:

“It was certainly a miserable spectacle to see every day NUMBERS OF PEOPLE EXECUTED BY MARTIAL LAW, AT THE DISCRETION, OR RATHER CAPRICE OF SIR CHARLES COOTE, AN HOT-HEADED AND BLOODY MAN, AND AS SUCH ACCOUNTED EVEN BY THE ENGLISH PROTESTANTS. Yet, this was the man whom the Lords Justices picked out to entrust with a commission of martial law to put to death rebels or traitors – that is, all such as he should deem to be so; WHICH HE PERFORMED WITH DELIGHT AND A WANTON KIND OF CRUELTY. And yet all this while the justices sat in council, and the judges at the usual seasons sat in their respective courts, SPECTATORS OF, AND COUNTENANCING so extravagant a tribunal as Sir Charles Coote’s, and so illegal an execution of justice.” – Lord Castlehaven, quoted in Carte’s Orm. vol. I.  pp. 279, 280.

Another specimen of the services upon which Sir Charles Coote was employed, we have on the authority of Borlase, as well as of Carte. The public faith had been pledged to protect a Mr. King, one of the gentlemen assembled at Swords. The Lords Justices observed their plighted faith by sending a party of horse and foot, on the 15th December, 1641, to Clontarf, the property of Mr. King, with orders to fall upon and cut off the inhabitants, and burn the village.

“These orders,” says Borlase, “were excellently well executed.” – Hist. Reb. P. 62.

Carte adds:-

“Sir Charles Coote, who, by the Lords Justices’ special designation, was appointed to go on this expedition, as the fittest person to execute their orders, and one who best knew their minds, at this time pillaged and burned houses, corn, and other goods belonging to Mr. King, to the value of four thousand pounds.” – Carte’s Ormond, I. 249.

The next extract I shall give is of some length; but it is exceedingly significant. It relates to the murder of Father Higgins, the parish priest of Naas; a man of innocent life, of humanity, and of piety; a man whose character was never tarnished. Yet his innocence, his active humanity, and his piety, could not – in the midst of Dublin, and in the presence of the Government – avail him aught! Every part of this extract is pregnant with meaning: the object to discourage submissions, lest they should diminish confiscations, was well worthy of our pious Protestant English governors. Here is the story of his assassination:-

“The cruelties of the martial law under Sir C. Coote have been already mentioned; but about this time, when it was thought politic to discourage the submissions which were growing frequent, Father Higgins, a very quiet, pious, inoffensive man, who had put himself under the protection of Lord Ormond, and whom his lordship had brought with him to Dublin, was one morning seized; and without any trial or delay, or giving his lordship any notice of the intention, by Sir C. Coote’s order, hanged. Father Higgins officiated as a priest at Naas, and in that neighbourhood; HAD DISTINGUISHED HIMSELF GREATLY BY SAVING THE ENGLISH IN THOSE PARTS FROM SPOIL AND SLAUGHTER; and had relieved several whom he found to have been stripped and plundered, so far was he from engaging in the rebellion, or giving any encouragement to it. Lord Ormond had therefore taken him under his protection; and when he heard of the execution of this innocent man, for no other reason than his being a priest, his lordship was very warm in his expostulations with the Justices upon it at the council board. They pretended to be surprised; and excused themselves from having had any other hand in the affair than giving Sir C. Coote a general authority to order such executions without consulting them. Lord Ormond insisted that Coote should be tried for what he had done, as having hanged an innocent, nay, a deserving subject, WITHOUT EXAMINATION, WITHOUT TRIAL, AND WITHOUT A PARTICULAR WARRANT TO AUTHORISE HIM IN IT. The Justices, who had either directed him to do it, or were determined to support their favourite in a proceeding which was agreeable to them, would not give him up. Their hanging a man of character at all, deserving in many respects, and exceptionable in none but his religion, inclines one to think that THEY INTENDED THIS WAR SHOULD BE UNDERSTOOD TO BE A WAR OF RELIGION. But their hanging him in such a manner, by martial law, by Sir C. Coote’s authority only, against justice and humanity, when brought thither and protected by Lord Ormond, could only be meant to prevent all submissions, or to offer such an indignity to his lordship as should provoke him to resign his commission, and to oppose them no longer in council.” – Warner, p. 182.

I now give Clarendon’s version of the same transaction; because it shows the brutality of even the soldiers who were under the command of Ormond, while he was serving the English party. It, however, does not appear that these soldiers knew he was a priest. They were ready to murder him merely for being a Papist.

“The Marquis of Ormond, having intelligence that a party of the rebels intended to be at such a time at the Naas, he drew some troops with the hope of surprising them; and, marching all night, came early in the morning into the town, from which the rebels, upon notice, were newly fled. In the town some of the soldiers found the Rev. Mr. Higgins, who might, ‘tis true, have as easily fled, if he had apprehended any danger in the stay. When he was brought before the Marquis, he voluntarily acknowledged that he was a Papist, and that his residence was in the town, from whence he refused to fly away with those who were guilty; because he not only knew himself very innocent, but believed that he could not be without ample evidence of it, having by his sole charity and power preserved very many of the English Protestants from the rage and fury of the Irish: and therefore, he only besought the Marquis to preserve him from the violence of the soldiers, and to put him securely into Dublin, to be tried for any crime: which the Marquis promised to do, and performed it, though with so much hazard, that when it was spread abroad among the soldiers that he was a Papist, the officer into whose custody he was entrusted was assaulted by them; and it was as much as the Marquis could do to relieve him, and compose the mutiny. When he came to Dublin he informed the Lords Justices of the prisoner he had brought with him; of the good testimony he had received of his peaceable carriage; and of the pains he had taken to restrain those with whom he had credit, from entering into rebellion; and of many charitable offices he had performed, of which there wanted not evidence enough, there being many then in Dublin who owed their lives, and whatever of their fortunes was left, purely to him: so that he doubted not that he would be worthy of protection. Within a few days after, when the Marquis did not suspect the poor man’s being in danger, he heard that Sir Charles Coote, who was Provost-marshal General, had taken him out of prison, and caused him to be put to death in the morning, before, or as soon as it was light: of which barbarity the Marquis complained to the Lords Justices; but was so far from bringing the other to be questioned, that he found himself to be upon some disadvantage, for thinking the proceeding to be other than it ought to have been.” – Clarendon’s Hist. Irish Reb.

I wish to specify in particular the cruelties of Sir Charles Coote in the county of Wicklow. Let it be recollected that Coote’s crimes are NOT the crimes of an individual only. The Government who selected and employed him is of course responsible for those crimes. Here is the short and pithy account given by Leland of an expedition of his into the county of Wicklow:-

“Sir Charles Coote,” says Leland, “in revenge of the depredations of the Irish, committed SUCH UNPROVOKED, SUCH RUTHLESS, AND INDISCRIMINATE CARNAGE in the town of Wicklow, as rivalled the utmost extravagancies of the northerns.” – Leland’s Hist. Ireland, Book V, chap 4.

Fortified by this corroboration, I do not hesitate to give the following account of the English cruelties in the county of Wicklow, from a pamphlet published in London in the year 1662, although it was written by an Irish Catholic. But as the writer appeals confidently to then living Protestant witnesses[1], and indeed is corroborated in the most important of his statements by Leland and Warner, both Protestant clergymen, it is manifest that his details can with perfect safety be relied on.


October, 1641. Three women, whereof one gentlewoman was big with child, and a boy, were hanged on the bridge of Neuragh by command of Sir Charles Coote, in his first march to that county; and he caused his guide to blow into his pistol, and so shot him dead. He also hanged a poor butcher on the same march, called Thomas Mac William. Mr. Dan. Conyam, of Glanely, aged, and unable to bear arms, was roasted to death by Captain Gee, of Colonel Crafford’s regiment: and in the marches of 1641, 1642, and 1643, the English army killed all they met in this country, though no murders are charged in the said country to be committed on Protestants by the Abstract. In the Usurper’s time, Captain Barrington, garrisoned at Arklow, MURDERED DONAGH O’DOYLE OF KILLECARROW, AND ABOVE FIVE HUNDRED MORE PROTECTED BY HIMSELF; and it is well known that most of the commonalty were murdered.

Here is another passage from the same writer, confirmed by Carte and Warner in like manner. It is given in abstract by those Protestant historians, but in fuller detail in the following quotation:-


1641. About the beginning of November, five poor men (whereof two were Protestants) coming from the market of Dublin, and lying that night at Santry, three miles from thence, were murdered in their beds by one Captain Smith and a part of the garrison of Dublin, and their heads brought next day in triumph into the city; which occasioned Luke Netterville and George King, and others of the neighbours, to write to the Lords Justices to know the cause of the said murder: whereupon their lordships issued forth a proclamation that within five days the gentry should come to Dublin to receive satisfaction, and in the mean while (before the five days were expired) old Sir Charles Coote came out with a party, plundered and burned the town of Clontarf, distant two miles from Dublin, belonging to the said George King, nominated in the proclamation; and killed 16 of the townsmen and women, and three sucking infants. Which unexpected breach of the proclamation (having deterred the gentlemen from waiting on the Lords Justices) forced many of them to betake themselves to their defence, and abandon their houses.”

The character of Sir Charles Coote requires no further elucidation. He was the man to whom the English Government gave unlimited power of life and death over the Irish. “He was,” as Carte says, “the fittest person to execute their orders, and one who best knew their minds.” It is not surprising therefore, that a Protestant clergyman should give of him the following mitigated character:-

“He” (Sir Charles Coote) “was a stranger to mercy, and committed many acts of cruelty without distinction.” – Warner’s Hist. Irish Reb. P. 135.

Torture in 1641

“They” (the Chief Governors) “resolved to supply the want of legal evidence by putting some prisoners to the rack. They began with Hugh M’Mahon, who had been seized on the information of O’Connoly, and from whom they expected some important discoveries. But torture could force nothing from him essential to their great purpose.” – Leland, Book V. chap. 4.

Even in this cruelty there is a very characteristic trait. The Irish gentry, unwilling to be driven into armed resistance, entrusted Sir John Read with a petition to the King. Parsons (whom we have already named – the ancestor of the present Earl of Rosse) obtained the confidence of Sir John Read, and of course betrayed him. Let Warner tell the story:-

“Sir John Read, by the same stretch of arbitrary power, was BROUGHT TO THE RACK. This gentleman was of the privy chamber to the King, a lieutenant-colonel in the late disbanded army, and engaged by the Lords of the Pale to carry over their petitions to the King and Queen. He intended to make no secret of his journey, and therefore sent a letter by a servant of his own to Parsons, to desire a pass; who, in answer, required him to repair to Dublin, that the council might confer with him. – Warner. P. 177.

He was tortured. But no evidence could be extorted from him – because he had no evidence to give against the Catholic gentry whom it was sought to convict, save that which he had avowed and considered no crime; namely, their having petitioned the Sovereign for protection. He was however made to feel that if the fact of petitioning were not a crime, it was at least punishable as such. Let the English reader pause upon the consequences:-

“Sir J. Read was sent a prisoner to England; and whilst absent, and in those circumstances, was indicted and outlawed for high treason; his lady and goods were seized upon, and his children turned out of doors; and when she petitioned to these worthy Justices to assign her some part of her effects to maintain her family, they absolutely refused to allow her any.” – Warner, 178.

Aye – his wife and children turned out to starve! There is a specimen of English humanity and justice for you! While the wife and children were famishing, the Government proceeded in their reckless career:-

“The racking M’Mahon and Sir John Read did not content this merciless administration; AND SO MR. BARNEWAL OF KILBREW WAS PUT TO THE SAME TORTURE. He was one of the most considerable gentlemen of the Pale; a venerable old man of sixty-six years of age, delighting in husbandry, a lover of quiet, and highly respected in his country. He had sent intelligence to the Government of the motion of the Ulster rebels in the month of November; and the only thing that could be said against him was, that he had obeyed the sheriff’s summons for the meeting at the hill of Crofty, when Lord Gormanston declared an union with them. It does not appear that he actually approved the union, or that he actually had joined them upon any occasion; and so little did the ministers get by putting him to the torture, that it only served to make his innocence, and their own inhumanity, the more conspicuous.” – Warner, p. 179.

The object was avowed – to force the Catholics of property into rebellion. They were allowed no means of defending their houses against insurgents who had already been driven to take up arms. They thronged into Dublin, where they would have been under the immediate inspection of the Government, and would have joined in resisting the insurgents. But the object of the English Protestant party was to force these Catholics of wealth to join those whom they called rebels. It required no less than three proclamations to force them out of Dublin. But I will give the original authority:-

“The gentlemen of the Pale, banished Dublin by three successive proclamations, and on pain of death ordered to repair to their own houses, unable to make resistance, and seeing not any, even the least prospect of relief or succour, opened their defenceless habitations to the enemy; which gave the Lords Justices occasion to complain that the rebels were harboured and lodged in gentlemen’s houses of that county, as fully as if they were good subjects. This correspondence, however necessitated it was at first, involved them in the guilt of rebellion, according to the rigour of the law, which they had no reason to think would be relaxed, on account of their unhappy situation, by any favour or tenderness they might hope from the then Government, made the gentlemen in general, and the high sheriff in particular, to join the rebels, and put the fate of their persons and fortunes upon the issue of the rebellion.” – Carte’s Ormond, I. 238.

Thus, they were to be punished with death if they remained in Dublin. Driven to their own houses, they must submit to the insurgents, and thus incur the penalties of treason. What were they then to do? Several of these unhappy gentlemen fled back from the insurgents, and surrendered themselves to the mercy of the Justices. This was the proceeding taken against them:-

“All the gentlemen that surrendered themselves were, without being admitted to the presence of the Justices, committed prisoners to the castle. Preparations were made for their trial, and it was publicly said they should be prosecuted with the utmost severity. But as they had never appeared in the field, nor been engaged in any warlike action, PROPER FACTS WERE WANTING TO SUPPORT A CHARGE AGAINST THEM. To supply this defect, the Lords Justices had recourse to the RACK, though against the law, in order to extort such confessions as these miscreants had a mind to put into the mouths of the unhappy men who were to undergo it.” – Warner, p. 176.

The premeditation with which the Lords Justices arranged their plans for driving the Irish into rebellion, is well illustrated by the following extract; which shows that no devices were omitted to drive the Catholic Irish to despair, and to force them to defend themselves with the sword:-

“Some time before the rebellion broke out,” says Carte, “it was confidently reported that Sir John Clotworthy, who well knew the designs of the faction that governed the House of Commons in England, had declared in a speech THAT THE CONVERSION OF THE PAPISTS IN IRELAND WAS ONLY TO BE EFFECTED BY THE BIBLE IN ONE HAND AND THE SWORD IN THE OTHER; AND MR. PYM GAVE OUT THAT THEY WOULD NOT LEAVE A PRIEST IN IRELAND. To the like effect Sir William Parsons, out of a strange weakness, or detestable policy, positively asserted before so many witnesses, at a public entertainment, that WITHIN A TWELVEMONTH NO CATHOLIC SHOULD BE SEEN IN IRELAND. He had sense enough to know the consequences that would naturally arise from such a declaration; which, however it might contribute to his own selfish views, he would hardly have ventured to make so openly and without disguise, if it had not been agreeable to the politics and measures of the English faction, whose party he espoused, and whose directions were the general rule of his conduct.” – Carte’s Ormond, vol. I. p. 235.

“It is evident,” says Dr. Warner, (a Protestant clergyman,) “from the Lord Justice’s letter to the Earl of Leicester, then Lord Lieutenant, that THEY HOPED FOR AN EXTIRPATION, NOT OF THE MERE IRISH ONLY, BUT OF ALL THE OLD ENGLISH FAMILIES ALSO WHO WERE ROMAN CATHOLICS.”- Warner’s Hist. of the Irish Rebel.

Coming back for one moment to Sir Charles Coote, the catalogue of whose horrors we have already described, I will revive the recollection of them by the following passage from Clarendon:-

“Sir Charles, besides plundering and burning this town” [Clontarf] “at that time, did massacre 16 of the townspeople, men and women, besides three suckling infants; and in the very same week 56 men, women, and children, of the village of Bulloge, being frightened at what was done at Clontarf, took boats, and went to sea to shun the fury of a party of soldiers that were come out of Dublin under the command of Colonel Crafford; but being pursued by the soldiers in other boats, they were overtaken and thrown overboard.”- Appendix to Clarendon’s Hist. Irish Reb., Wilford, London, 1720.

Was Coote punished for his sanguinary conduct, not exceeded in atrocity by that of the modern Robespierre? You shall learn:-

“Sir Charles Coote, immediately after his inhuman executions and promiscuous murders of the people in Wicklow, was made Governor of Dublin.”- Carte’s Ormond, I. 259.

The hideous monster Coote, indeed was, as I have already said, of inestimable value to his employers. To him was given the part of the archfiend. It was death and destruction to place the least confidence in him. The Lords Justices proposed a treaty with the Lords of the Pale; who were most anxious to accept any terms. But they would not put themselves into the power of Sir Charles Coote, who they knew would have murdered every one of them.

“The Lords Justices, as soon as they were satisfied that the Lords of the Pale would not trust themselves in the city in the hands of Sir Charles Coote, though they were ready to treat the commissioners sent from thence to any place out of his power, TOOK MEASURES IN ORDER TO CONVICT THEM OF TREASON, AND FORFEIT THEIR ESTATES.”- Carte’s Orm. I. 276.

For the present – so much for Sir Charles Coote! I go on with my extracts.

The next is, the orders given in February, 1641-2, by the Lords Justices to the Earl of Ormond; communicated to him in the shape of a resolution, as follows:-

“It is resolved, That it is fit that his lordship do endeavour with his Majesty’s forces to wound, kill, slay, and destroy, by all ways and means he may, all the said rebels, their adherents, and relievers; and burn, spoil, waste, consume, destroy, and demolish, ALL THE PLACES, TOWN, AND HOUSES, WHERE THE SAID REBELS ARE, OR HAVE BEEN, RELIEVED AND HARBOURED; and all the hay and corn there; AND KILL AND DESTROY ALL THE MEN THERE INHABITING CAPABLE TO BEAR ARMS. Given at his Majesty’s Castle of Dublin, 23rd February, 1641-2.


With what fiendish pleasure this tribunal of blood gloated over every word that could signify destruction or massacre! The French Revolutionists were but poor copyists of English cruelty in Ireland! The orders were of course carried into effect, beyond the letter, but according to the spirit. Here is what Leland says:-

“In the execution of these orders, the Justices declare, that the soldiers slew all persons promiscuously, NOT SPARING THE WOMEN, AND SOMETIMES NOT THE CHILDREN.”- Leland, Book V.

It will be remarked that the original orders were of the most cruel injustice: because they not only sanctioned the slaughter of those who were called “rebels, and their aiders and abetters,” but also of all male adults who happened to reside in any of the quarters where the so-called rebels had been received; although such persons might be perfectly innocent of the “crime” of having given them any assistance. But villainous and blood-thirsty as were the instructions, yet the cruelty of the execution went beyond them. That indeed was almost a matter of course, when one considers the sanguinary spirit that prevailed against the Irish.

That these massacres were committed, not by the over zeal of the meaner sort, but were deliberately planned and ordained by the persons in the highest authority, can be established by the most abundant proofs. We have seen the diabolical orders issued by the Lords Justices. Read now the following extract from Lord Ormond:-

“Sir William Parsons hath by late letters advised the Governor to the burning of corn, and to PUT MAN, WOMAN, AND CHILD TO THE SWORD; and Sir Adam Loftus hath written in THE SAME STRAIN.” – Ormond’s Letters, II. 350.

Here is a specimen of a massacre of prisoners in the streets of Dublin, who were taken at the battle of Rathmines; it is Lord Ormond who speaks:-

“The army, I am sure,” says his lordship, “was not eight thousand effective men; and of them it is certain that there were not above six hundred killed; and the most of them that were killed were butchered after they had laid down their arms, and had been almost an hour prisoners, and divers of them murdered after they were brought within the works of Dublin.”- Ormond, II. 396.

Those who (according to the practice of the day) were massacred as prisoners were not all Irish:-

“Some Walloons, whom the soldiers took for Irishmen, were put to the sword.”- Whitelock’s Memorials of English Affairs.

Unlucky Walloons!

As I have referred to Whitelock, I may as well give two other short extracts from that writer, significant of the practice of the time:-

Their friars and priests were knocked on the head, promiscuously with the others, who were in arms.” – Whitelock, page 412.


“Sir Theophilus Jones had taken a castle, put some men to the sword, and thirteen priests.”- Whitelock, p. 527.

I will give the following instances of the conduct of General Monroe, who was employed by the Government in the northern expedition:-

Monroe put sixty men, eighteen women, and two priests to death at Newry.”- Leland, III. 203.

The second is this:-

“He,” [Monroe,] “at Lord Conway’s instance, who attended him in the expedition, advanced with 3,600 foot, three troops of horse, and four field pieces. He did no other service than taking a view of the place on the 16th July, 1642, and saw some parties of the enemy who had no powder to fire; he did not attack them; but making a prey of cattle, and killing seven hundred country people, men, women, and children, who were driving away the cattle, he returned to Newry.”- Carte, vol. I. p. 311.

One trait more of the Monroe:-

[Other] “forces joining Monroe, he made up the strongest army that had been seen in Ireland during the war; it amounting to at least 10,000 foot, and 1,000 horse. It was unfit, however, for any great undertaking, not being furnished with above three weeks’ victual. Monroe advanced with it into the county of Cavan, from whence he sent parties into Westmeath and Longford, which burnt the country, and put to the sword all the country people that they met.” – Carte’s Ormond, I. 495.

The following massacre took place upon the hill above Rathcoole. It was one of the few instances which savoured of retaliation; but it was so horrible, that I cannot refrain from giving the particulars as stated by Colonel Mervyn Touchet to his brother Lord Castlehaven. Sir Arthur Loftus, Governor of Naas, marched out with a party of horse, which was joined by another party sent from Dublin by the Marquis of Ormond, and killed such of the Irish as they met.

“But the most considerable slaughter was in a great straight of furze, seated on a hill, where the people of several villages taking the alarm had sheltered themselves. Now, Sir Arthur having invested the hill, set the furze on fire on all sides, where the people, being in considerable number, were all burned or killed, men, women, and children. I saw the bodies and furze still burning.” – Castlehaven’s Memoirs.

It is manifest that this was not a solitary instance of such cruelty. Clarendon treats it as the usual practice:-

“In the year 1641-2, many thousands of the poor innocent people of the county of Dublin, shunning the fury of the English soldiers, fled into thickets and furze, which the soldiers did usually fire, killing as many as endeavoured to escape, or forced them back again to be burned, and the rest of the inhabitants for the most part died of famine.” – Appendix of Clarendon’s Hist. of the Irish Reb., Wilford, London, 1720.

This horrible roasting alive of the inhabitants of several villages serves only to relieve by its variety the sanguinary slaughter of the sword.

Let us now turn to another scene. Two quotations more from Carte will show, how the insurrection in Munster was, according to the technical phrase, “made to explode.” That is, how the people were COMPELLED to take arms in their own defence. They will also show the active humanity of the Catholic clergy, and of many of the Catholic laity at that disastrous period, when – I say it with bitter regret – no such instances were shown upon the part of the Protestant clergy or laity:-

It was the middle of December before any one gentleman in the province of Munster appeared to favour the rebellions. Many had shown themselves zealous to oppose it, and had tendered their services for that end. Lord Muskerry, who had married a sister of the Earl of Ormond’s, offered to raise a thousand men at his own charge; and if the State could not supply them with arms, he was ready to raise money by a mortgage of his estate to buy them... Nor did any signs of uneasiness or disaffection appear among the gentry, till Sir W. St. Leger came to Clonmell, which was on the first of that month, three days before the action I have just now related.” [viz., at a place called Mohill.] “There had been a few days before, some robberies (of cattle) committed in the county Tipperary… Sir W. St. Leger, upon notice thereof, came in two or three days after with two troops of horse in great fury to Ballyowen; and being informed the cattle were driven into Eliogarty, he marched that way. As he set forth, HE KILLED THREE PERSONS AT BALLYOWEN, who were said to have taken up some mares of Mr. Kingsmill’s; and not far off, at Grange, HE KILLED OR HANGED FOUR INNOCENT LABOURERS; AT BALLY-O’MURRIN, SIX; AND AT BALLYGARBURT, EIGHT, AND BURNT SEVERAL HOUSES. Nor was it without great importunity and intercession that he spared the life of Mr. Morris Magrath, (grandson to Milerus, Archbishop of Cashel in Queen Elizabeth’s time,) a civil, well-bred gentleman, it being plainly proved that he had no hand in the prey, notwithstanding which proof he still kept that gentleman in prison. From thence Captain Peisley marching to Armaile, KILLED THERE SEVEN OR EIGHT POOR MEN AND WOMEN WHOM HE FOUND STANDING ABROAD IN THE STREETS NEAR THEIR OWN DOORS INOFFENSIVELY. AND PASSING OVER THE RIVER EWYER EARLY IN THE MORNING, MARCHED TO CLONOULTA, WHERE MEETING PHILIP RYAN, THE CHIEF FARMER OF THE PLACE, A VERY HONEST AND ABLE MAN, NOT AT ALL CONCERNED IN ANY OF THE ROBBERIES, GOING WITH HIS PLOUGH-IRON IN A PEACABLE MANNER TO THE FORGE, HE, WITHOUT ANY INQUIRY, EITHER GAVE ORDERS FOR, OR CONNIVED AT HIS BEING KILLED, AS APPEARED BY HIS CHERISHING THE MURDERER. FROM THENCE HE WENT TO GOELLYN BRIDGE, WEHRE HE KILLED AND HANGED SEVEN OR EIGHT OF DR. GERALD FENNELL’S TENANTS, HONEST INHABITANTS OF THE PLACE, AND BURNED SEVERAL HOUSES IN THE TOWN.”- Carte’s Ormond, I. 265.

The Catholic nobility and gentry of Munster remonstrated with St. Leger. This was his answer:-

“He, in a hasty, furious manner, answered them, that they were all rebels, and he would not trust one soul of them; but thought it more prudent to hang the best of them.” – Carte, I. 266.

The murders of the Irish went on; some of the meaner sort occasionally, as was inevitable. One is not surprised to hear that some of the kinsmen of the murdered Philip Ryan, in reprisal for this and other murders, slew thirteen of the English. But this crime served to bring out the virtues of the Catholic Irish; thus they conducted themselves on that occasion:-

All the rest of the English were saved by the inhabitants of that place in their houses, and had the goods which they confided them safely restored. Dr. Samuel Pullen, [Protestant] Chancellor of Cashel and Dean of Clonfert, with his wife and children, was preserved by Father James Saul, a Jesuit. Several other Romish priests distinguished themselves on this occasion by their endeavours to save the English; particularly F. Joseph Everard and Redmond English, both Franciscan friars, who hid some of them in their chapel, and even under their altar… The English who were thus preserved, were, according to their desire, safely conveyed into the county of Cork, by a guard of the Irish inhabitants of Cashel.” – Carte’s Ormond, vol. I. p. 267.

I will not revert to the proofs given by the English parliament of their malignant enmity towards the unhappy natives of Ireland. The following extract is taken by Rushworth from the Journals of the English House of Commons:-

October 24, 1644.

An ordinance of the Lords and Commons assembled in parliament, commanding that no officer or soldier, either by sea or land, shall give any quarter to an Irishman, or to any Papist born in Ireland, which shall be taken in arms against the parliament of England:

“The Lords and Commons assembled in the parliament of England do declare, that no quarter shall be given to any Irishman, or to any Papist born in Ireland, which shall be taken in hostility against the parliament, either upon sea, or within this kingdom, or dominion of Wales: and therefore do order and ordain that the Lord General, Lord Admiral, and all other officers and commanders both by sea and land, shall except all Irishmen, and all Papists born in Ireland, out of all capitulations, agreements, and compositions hereafter to be made with the enemy; and shall, upon the taking of every such Irishman and Papist born in Ireland as aforesaid, FORTHWITH PUT EVERY SUCH PERSON TO DEATH.

“And it is further ordered and ordained, that the Lord General, Lord Admiral, and the Committees of the several counties, do give speedy notice hereof to all subordinate officers and commanders by sea and land respectively; who are hereby required to use their utmost care and circumspection that this ordinance be duly executed; and lastly, the Lords and Commons do declare that every officer and commander by sea or land, that shall be remiss or negligent in observing the tenor of this ordinance, shall be reputed a favourer of the bloody rebellion of Ireland, and shall be liable to such condign punishment as the justice of both houses of parliament shall inflict upon him.” – Rushworth, vol. V. p. 783.

The following specimen of the readiness with which this cruelty was anticipated by national antipathy, and carried into effect against Ireland, is full of horror:-

“The Earl of Warwick, and the officers under him at sea, had, as often as he met with any Irish frigates, or such freebooters as sailed under their commission, taken all the seamen who became prisoners to them of that nation (Ireland), and bound them back to back, and thrown them overboard into the sea, without distinction of their condition, if they were Irish. In this cruel manner very many poor men perished daily; of which the King said nothing, because… his Majesty could not complain of it without being concerned in the behalf, and in favour of the rebels of Ireland.” – Clarendon, II. 478.

Clarendon is of course anxious to excuse or palliate the conduct of Charles – but how does his excuse aggravate the demoniacal disposition of the English aristocracy and gentry, as well as of the people in general, towards the Irish? Let any reasonable man but reflect for one moment on these deliberate cruelties – cruelties not committed in the rage of fight, or in the heat of blood.

Here were Protestant Christians – ENGLISH Protestant Christians – coolly and calmly going through the slow process of tying back to back, and then deliberately drowning a number of their fellow creatures – merely because they had them in their power, and because they were Irish!

There is nothing new under the sun! The drownings of the loyalists in France, the “noyades,” as they were called, by the revolutionary monster Carrier, and his colleagues, had their precedent in the conduct of Englishmen to Irishmen, But what a difference between the cases! Carrier was a low-born vulgar monster – an avowed Atheist. He affected no conscientious scruples – he was a godless wretch. But the English who perpetuated these cruelties were “noblemen” and “gentlemen” – men (in their way) of fervent piety! with the Bible – the Word of God – in their hands; with prayer upon their lips; proclaiming themselves the disciples of the God of mercy and of charity. Yes, they were “English Protestant Christians” – they, who, even in the name of God, committed these barbarous cruelties!

Indignation and execration are vain. What country ever inflicted on another such ineffable cruelties as England has inflicted on Ireland? Let me give another instance in which the bloody orders of the English Commons were anticipated. In the month of May, A. D. 1644-

“The Marquis of Ormond had sent Captain Anthony Willoughby with 150 men, which had formerly served in the fort of Galway, from thence to Bristol. The ship which carried them was taken by Swanley, WHO WAS SO INHUMAN AS TO THROW SEVENTY OF THE SOLDIERS OVERBOARD, under the pretence that they were Irish; THOUGH THEY HAD FAITHFULLY SERVED HIS MAJESTY against the rebels during all the time of the wary.”- Carte, I. 481.

Some may possibly be so absurd as to suppose that Captain Swanley was punished for these brutalities. He had barbarously assassinated faithful soldiers, serving their King and their country. He had basely assassinated them, for no other reason than that they were Irish. How did the representatives of the English people treat him? Recollect that these representatives were the chosen spirits of the age – the master minds of England – the advocates of Liberty – and the zealous promoters of (what they called) Religion. Listen, Englishmen; attend, Protestants; my authority is no less than the Journals of your House of Commons. Here is the fact:-

“June, 1644,” (the next month after his murderous outrage,) “Captain Swanley was called into the [English] House of Commons, and had THANKS GIVEN HIM FOR HIS GOOD SERVICE; AND A CHAIN OF GOLD OF TWO HUNDRED POUNDS VALUE; and Captain Smith, his vice-admiral, had another chain of £100 value.” – Journals, III. 517.

It will be borne in mind that I am making selections – not giving all the instances of cruelty; no, nor probably the one-thousandth part of them. It is on that account alone that I quit the navy, and give another specimen of the English land-service. Just mark, I pray you, the mode of procuring the esteem of parliament:-

“Sir Richard Grenville… was very much esteemed by the Earl of Leicester, and more by the parliament, for the signal acts of cruelty he did every day commit upon the Irish… hanging old men who were bedrid, because they would not discover where their money was that he believed they had; and old women, some of quality, after he had plundered them, and found less than he expected.” – Clarendon, II. P. 414.

We must ever bear carefully in mind, that a large portion of the astounding horrors and diabolical crimes committed against Ireland by England, were confessedly perpetrated for the support, and on the behalf of the “Protestant religion.”

In 1643, a cessation of hostilities had been proclaimed in Ireland, which was equally desirable to the wretched King, and to the Irish people. The reader will remember, that, in the reign of Elizabeth, Spenser had recommended the destruction of provisions, in order that the Irish might be driven by famine “to devour each other.” Spenser’s diabolical policy (which had been acted upon at the time) was now revived, and patronised by the Protestant parliament of England. That parliament deemed it conducive to the interests of the Protestant religion, that the Irish Catholics should be compelled by famine “to eat one another.”. Accordingly, the cessation of hostilities-

“Was no sooner known in England, but the two houses declared against it, with all the sharp glosses upon it to his Majesty’s dishonour that can be imagined; persuading the people that the rebels were now brought to their last gasp, and REDUCED TO SO TERRIBLE A FAMINE THAT, LIKE CANNIBALS, THEY EAT ONE ANOTHER; and must have been destroyed immediately, and utterly rooted out, if, by the popish counsels at court, the King had not been persuaded to consent to this cessation.” – Clarendon, II. 323.

That the persecuting bigotry of Protestantism deliberately purposed to prolong the horrible famine thus described, as a means of strengthening and propagating the Protestant religion, is a fact of which the record stands upon the Journals of the English parliament:-

Sept. 20, 1643. It was resolved, upon the question, that this house doth hold that a present cessation of arms with the rebels in Ireland is destructive to the Protestant religion.” – Journals, III. 248.

Rushworth’s testimony adds the fullest confirmation (if any were wanted) to the fact, that these horrors were quite congenial with the Protestant bigotry of the English Legislature. Here are his words:-

“The Lords and Commons have reason to declare against this plot and design of a cessation of arms, as being treated and carried on without their advice; so also because of the great prejudice which will thereby redound to the Protestant religion, and the encouragement and advancement which it will give to the practice of popery, when these rebellious Papists shall, by this agreement, continue and set up with more freedom their idolatrous worship, their popish superstitions, and Romish abominations, in all the places of their command, to the dishonouring of God, the grieving of all true Protestant hearts, the dissolving of the laws of the Crown of England, and to the provoking the wrath of a jealous God! as if both kingdoms had not smarted enough already for this sin of too much conniving at, and tolerating of antichristian idolatry, under pretext of civil contracts and politic agreements.” – Rushworth, V. 557.

Oh, Protestantism! what unspeakable horrors and miseries – what demoniac persecutions – have been inflicted in your name upon the Catholic people of Ireland!

Let us now come back to Sir Charles Coote the elder. Here is an additional accusation brought against him. There is no doubt stated as to the fact of the monstrous cruelty; the only question is, as to his mode of expression. There is no doubt that he did not prevent the cruelty; and independently of the authority, it is difficult to doubt the expression. At all events the poor babe in question was brutally massacred. This act of English friendship was perpetrated:-

“Tuesday, December 7, a party of foot being sent out into the neighbourhood of Dublin in quest of some robbers that had plundered an house at Buskin, came to the village of Santry, and murdered some innocent husbandsmen, (whose heads they brought into the city in triumph, and among which were one or two Protestants,) under pretence that they had harboured and relieved the rebels who had made inroads and committed depredations in those parts. Hard was the case of the country people at this time, when not being able to hinder parties of robbers and rebels breaking into their homes and taking refreshments there, this should be deemed a treasonable act, AND SUFFICIENT TO AUTHORIZE A MASSACRE. This following so soon after the executions, which Sir Charles Coote… had ordered in the county of Wicklow, among which, when A SOLDIER WAS CARRYING ABOUT A POOR BABE ON THE END OF HIS PIKE, he” [namely, Coote] “was charged with saying THAT HE LIKED SUCH FROLICS, made it presently be imagined that it was determined to proceed against all suspected persons in the same undistinguishing way of cruelty; and it served either for an occasion or pretence to some Roman Catholic gentlemen of the county of Dublin (among which were Luke Netterville, George Blackney, and George King) to assemble together at Swords, six miles from Dublin, and put themselves with their followers in a posture of defence.”- Carte’s Ormond, I. 244-5.

Let me give another specimen of the merits of one of Coote’s coadjutors; his efforts were directed to produce that hideous famine which the English parliament deemed of such utility to the Protestant religion:-

“Among the several acts of public service performed by a regiment of Sir William Cole, consisting of 500 foot and a troop of horse, we find the following hideous article recorded by the historian Borlase, with particular satisfaction and triumph:


To come back for the last time to Coote himself – I take the following extract from a pamphlet entitled “A Collection of some of the Massacres and Murders committed on the Irish in Ireland, since the 23rd of October, 1641:”-


Mr. Barnewell, of Tobertinian, and Mr. John Hussey, innocent persons were hanged at Trim by old Sir Charles Coote’s party. Gerald Lynch of Donower, aged 80 years, was killed by troopers of Trim, being in protection. Mr. Thomas Talbot, of Crawly’s Town, about 80 years old, being protected, and a known servitor to the Crown, was killed at his own door by some of Captain Morroe’s troop. About the month of April the soldiers under the said Grenvilles’s command, killed in and about the Navan 80 men, women, and children, who lived under protection. Captain Wentworth and his company, garrisoned at Duno, killed no less than 200 protected persons in the parish of Donamora Slane, and barony of Margellion and Overmorein, the town or Ardmulchan, Kingstown, and Harristown, all protected persons.”

My next quotation will be rather long. It gives so many particulars of murders committed by the soldiers of the garrisons in Meath, that I am tempted to give it at length. It is in the same book. I confess I cannot resist inserting it; even if it were from the circumstance alone that it was in that county – Meath – that the hellish miscreant Sir Charles Coote met his death; it is supposed from one of his own party.

“In April, (1642,) Mrs. Ellinor Taaffe, of Tullaghanoge, sixty years old, and six women more, were murdered by the soldiers of the garrison of Trim; and a blind woman, aged eighty years, was encompassed with straw by them, to which they set fire and burned her. The same day they hanged two women in Kilbride, and two old decrepit men that begged alms of them. In the same year, Mr. Walter Dulin, an old man, unable to stir abroad many years before the war, was killed in his own house by Lieut. Col. Broughton’s troopers, notwithstanding the said Broughton’s protection, which the old man produced. Mr. Walter Evers, a justice of the peace and quorum, an aged man, and bedrid of the palsy long before the rebellion, was carried in a cart to Trim, and there hanged by the Governor’s orders. Many ploughmen were killed at Philberstowne. Forty men, women, and children in protection, reaping their harvest in Bonestown, were killed by a troop of the said garrison; who, on the same day, killed Mrs. Alison Read at Dunsaughlin, being 80 years old; and forty persons more, most of them women and children, shunning the fury of the said troop, were overtaken and slaughtered. About 70 men, women, and children, tenants to Mr. Francis M’Ovoy, and under protection, were killed by Grenville’s soldiers, and 160 more in the parish of Rathcoare, whereof there was one aged couple blind about 15 years before. Captain Sandford and his troop murdered in and about Mulhussey upwards of 100 men, women, and children  under protection, and caused one Connor Breslan to be stuck with a knife into the throat, and so bled to death. And one Eleanor Cusack, 100 years old, was tied about with lighted matches, and so tortured to death, in Clonmoghon. James Dowlan, about 100 years old, Donagh Comyn, Darby Denis, Roger Bolan, and several other labourers and women to the number of one hundred and sixty, making their harvest, were slaughtered by the garrison of Trim.”

One instance more in Meath; it is an atrocity committed by the men under command of Sir Richard Grenville, whom I have already mentioned:-

“Sir Richard Grenville’s troop killed 42 men, women, and children, and eighteen infants, at Doramstown. A woman under protection was, by Captain Morroe’s soldiers, put into the stock of a tuckmill, and so tucked to death.” – (From a pamphlet published in London, in 1662, entitled “A Collection of the Massacres and Murders committed on the Irish.”)

Let me now place before the reader the account of the death and funeral of Sir Charles Coote. It is exceedingly characteristic. Here it is:-

“In April, 1642, pursuing the rebels at Trim, he was unfortunately shot in the body, as it was thought, by one of his own troopers, whether by design or accident was never known. And this end had this gallant gentleman, who began to be so terrible to the enemy, as his very name was formidable to them. His body was brought to Dublin, and there interred with great solemnity, floods of English tears accompanying him to his grave. By his death the fate of the English interest in Ireland seemed eclipsed, if not buried.” – Borlase’s Hist. of the Irish. Reb. p. 104.

Floods of English tears! Floods of English tears!

This one fact at least is certain – that a more hideous, a more horrible villain never existed. The French Revolution – fertile in sanguinary monsters – produced nothing like him, who spared neither man, woman, nor child; neither priest nor layman. Yet this most superlative of diabolic miscreants was embalmed with “English tears!” – “English tears!” How heartily they wept for the man who was perfect in one talent – that of shedding Irish blood! A dry eye at his funeral would indeed have been, according to the modern phrase, “un-English”.

We now approach more nearly to the period of Cromwell’s arrival in Ireland, and we may as well prepare for the extracts exhibiting his atrocities, by showing what the intentions of the Irish Government were. Nothing was so offensive to them as the submission of the Irish; their object being the confiscation of the property and the extermination of the persons of the natives. In this they were in general faithfully aided by their subordinates.

“The Chief Governors… severely condemned the protection granted to Galway. Their order were expressed and peremptory that the Earl of Ormond should receive no more submissions; every commander of every garrison was ordered not to presume to hold any correspondence with the Irish, or Papists; TO GIVE NO PROTECTION, BUT TO PERSECUTE ALL REBELS AND THEIR HARBOURERS WITH FIRE AND SWORD. IN THE EXECUTION OF THESE ORDERS THE JUSTICES DECLARE, THAT THE SOLDIERS SLEW ALL PERSONS PROMISCUOUSLY, NOT SPARING THE WOMEN, AND SOMETIMES NOT THE CHILDREN.”- Leland, Book V, chap. 5.

From Galway let us now go to Donegal. The following are specimens of English humanity in that county:-


“About the same time,” (viz. November, 1641,) Captain Fleming, and other officers of the said regiment commanding a party, smothered to death 220 women and children in two caves. And about the same time also, Captain Cunningham murdered about 63 women and children in the isles of Ross.

The Governor of Letterkenny gathered together on a Sunday morning 53 poor people, most of them women and children, and caused them to be thrown off the bridge into the river, and drowned them all.

In November, one Reading murdered the wife and three children of Shane O’Morghy, in a place called Letterkenny of Ramaltan; and after her death cut off her breasts with his sword.

1641-2. About two thousand poor labourers, women, and children, of the barony of Tirbue, were massacred by the garrisons of Ballyshany and Donegall; and Lieutenant Thomas Poe, an officer among them, coming under colour of friendship to visit a neighbour that lay sick in his bed, and to whom he owed money, carried a dagger under his cloak, which, whilst he seemed to bow towards the sick man in a friendly manner, asking how he did, he thrust it into his body, and told his wife her husband should be no longer sick.

I will next introduce the head of the O’Brien family, Lord Inchiquin; I believe the direct ancestor of the present Marquis of Thormond. He was renowned for his acts of cruelty. He had sought to be made President of Munster under the King: but having been refused that office, to which another was appointed, he, from the paltry motive of selfish resentment, joined the English rebels, and committed the most horrible cruelties upon the Irish. He is celebrated in the recollection of the people, even till the present day, for his massacres in the cathedral of Cashel. There is something very characteristic in the following traits of his cruelty:-

“Inchiquin commits great destruction as far as he dares venture, about Dublin and Tredah [Drogheda], by burning and driving away their cattle, hangs all he can meet with, going to the Lord Lieutenant.” – Whitelock.

“The Lord Inchiquin took Pilborne castle by storm, and put all in it but eight to the sword.”- Whitelock.

The next fact has “damned him to everlasting fame:”-

“Inchiquin marched into the county of Tipperary, and hearing that many priests and gentry about Cashel had retired with their goods into the church, he stormed it, and being entered, put three thousand of them to the sword, taking the priests even from under the altar.” – Ludlow’s Memoirs, vol. I. p. 106.

The massacre not only of men and women, but even of little children, by the Cromwellian army, is familiar in the traditions of our peasantry at the present day. The common phrase in which these ruffians justified the slaughter of unoffending infants, is original in its disgusting phraseology. We have the odious fact authenticated by the Rev. Dr. Nalson; and he, too, was a Protestant clergyman. Here are his words:-

“I have heard a relation of my own, who was captain in that service, relate, that no manner of compassion or discrimination was showed either to age or sex; but that the little children were promiscuously sufferers with the guilty; and that if any who had some grains of compassion reprehended the soldiers for this unchristian inhumanity, they would scoffingly reply, ‘WHY? NITS WILL BE LICE!’ AND SO WOULD DESPATCH THEM.” – Nalson, vol. II. (Introduction) p. vii.

To come back to Dublin county. The author of the “Collection,” speaking of the first week in November, 1641, says, -

“In the same week, 56 men, women, and children, of the village of Bulloge, (being frightened at what was done at Clontarf,) took boats and went to sea, to shun the fury of a party of soldiers come out of Dublin under the command of Colonel Crafford; but being pursued by soldiers in other boats, were overtaken, and thrown over board. One Russell, a baker in Dublin, coming out of the country in company with Mr. Archbold of Clogram (who went to take hold of the proclamation of the Lords Justices,) were both hanged and quartered. In March, a party of horse, of the garrison of Donshaghlin, murdered seven or eight poor people in protection, tenants of Mr. Dillon of Huntstowne, having quartered in their houses the night before, and receiving such entertainment as the poor people could afford. About the same time, a party of the English quartered at Malahyde, hanged a servant of Mr. Robert Boyne’s at the plough, and forced a poor labourer to hang his own brother: and soon after they hanged 15 of the inhabitants of Swords who never bore arms, in the orchard of Malahyde; they likewise hanged a woman bemoaning her husband hanged among them.”

There is an incident of some interest given by the same author, immediately following my last extract. It relates to the cause why a Colonel Washington resigned his command and quitted the service. Its date is the same year – 1641:-

“In the same year, after quarter given by Lieutenant Colonel Gibson to those of the castle of Carrigmain, they were all put to the sword, being about 350, most of them women and children, and Colonel Washington, endeavouring to save a pretty child of seven years old, carried him under his cloak, but the child against his will was killed in his arms, which was a principal motive of his quitting the service.”

Several of the extracts already quoted, relate to periods subsequent to Cromwell’s arrival in Ireland. The following extract refers to a period long before that arrival:-

“Sir Henry Tichbourne, who had the chief command in that driving of O’Nial from Dundalk, performed that service, and afterwards pursued it with such an amazing slaughter of the Irish in those parts, that he boasts himself that for some weeks after there was neither man nor beast to be found in sixteen miles, between the two towns of Drogheda and Dundalk; nor on the other side of Dundalk in the county of Monaghan, nearer than Carrickmacross, a strong pile twelve miles distant.” – Carte’s Ormond.

I shall add to my catalogue the following, which I take from Borlase, than whom a more hostile witness could not be cited. I shall only mention one in Connaught, and two or three in Munster:-

“Sir Frederick Hamilton,” says Borlase, “entering Sligo about the first of July, 1642, burnt the town, and slew in the streets three hundred of the Irish.” – Borlase, p. 112.

Here are the instances referring to Munster:-

“Lord Dungarvan and Lord Brohill summoning the castle of Ardmore in the county of Waterford, 21st of August, 1642, it was yielded upon mercy. Nevertheless, one hundred and forty men were put to the sword.” – Borlase, p. 111.

We cannot therefore wonder that this Lord Broghill on another occasion declared-

“That he knew not what quarter meant.”- Borlase, p. 110.

Before I proceed further, I wish to give one extract from the relation of the many massacres committed in Munster. The county of Cork has claims upon me, and perhaps it is therefore that I cannot avoid multiplying my instances with the following quotation:-


“1642. At Cloghnekilty about 238 men, women, and children were murdered, of which number 17 children were taken by the legs by soldiers who knocked out their brains against the walls. This was done by Phorbis’s men, and the garrison of Bandon Bridge.

“The English part of this county burned O’Sullivan Beare’s houses in Bantry, and in all the rest of that country, killing man, woman, and child, turning many into their houses then on fire to be burned therein: and among others Thomas De Bucke, a cooper, about 80 years old, and his wife being little less; and all this was done without provocation, the said O’Sullivan being a known reliever of the English in that country. Observe that this county is not charged in the late Abstract with any murders.”

In honour of Bandon, I insert the following short extract:-

“1641. At Bandon Bridge, the garrison there tied 88 Irishmen of the said town, back to back, and threw them off the bridge into the river, where they were all drowned.”- Coll. p. 5.

We will now go back a little. The first great slaughter that occurred in the civil war after the Irish were driven into insurrection – (and never were such pains taken to compel an unwilling people to rise against a government as were taken by the Administration in Ireland to force the Irish to resist their tyranny!) – is the incident I am now going to describe. It is taken from the “Collection,” and requires no preface to excite attention. It was the fruitful source of many a crime. The following is the Irish account:-

“1641. About the beginning of November, the English and Scotch forces at Knockfergus murdered in one night all the inhabitants of the territory of the Island Magee, to the number of 3,000 men, women, and children, all innocent persons, at a time when none of the Catholics of that country were in arms or rebellion. – Note, that this was the first massacre committed in Ireland of either side.”

Now, I will place in juxtaposition with the above, the English Protestant account of the same transaction:-

“In one fatal night they” [the garrison of Carrickfergus] “issued from Carrickfergus into an adjacent district called Island Magee, where a number of the poorer Irish resided, unoffending, and untainted by the rebellion. If we may believe one of the leaders of this party, thirty families were assailed by them in their beds, and massacred with calm and deliberate cruelty.” – Leland, Book V. chap. 3.

There is no substantial difference between these two accounts. The difference in the number of the slain is easily accounted for by recollecting that upon that point the Irish would naturally be the better informed. Both agree in the circumstances of this most unprovoked and diabolical massacre. The inhabitants of the district of Island Magee, innocent, unoffending – unarmed; without a shadow of crime, or the least suspicion of guilt, were attacked at night in their beds, by English and Scotch soldiers, commanded and led on by their officers; and put to death with calm and deliberate cruelty. Talk of the barbarity of uneducated savages in any part of the globe! you cannot find it exceeding this deliberate slaughter, committed by English and Scotch Protestant soldiers on unarmed beings, who admittedly were guilty of no other crime than that of being Irish Catholics!

One or two facts more, touching the manner in which those English and Scotch soldiers conducted themselves in that country. I take it from the same “Collection” I have quoted already:-

“Mr. M’Naghten having built a small fortress in the said county (Antrim) to preserve himself and his followers from the outrages, until he understood what the cause of the then rebellion was; as soon as Colonel Campbell came near with part of the army, he sent to let him know that he would come to him with his party, which he did; and they were next day murdered to the number of 80, by Sir John Clotworthy, now Lord Massareen’s, soldiers.

“About the same time, 100 poor women and children were murdered in one night, at a place called Balliaghuin, by direction of the English and Scotch officers commanding in that country.”

I now come to the master-demon; he who steeped his hands in the blood of his Sovereign, and came to Ireland reeking from that crime; in order, by horrible cruelties committed on the Irish, to acquire popularity in England. And he did so acquire it, until it was sufficient to confer upon him regal power, and to enable him to place his hand upon that throne which he had not moral courage to occupy. I begin with an extract descriptive of the taking of Wexford; although, in point of time, this was the second town in which he displayed his barbarity. The following is the short and pithy account of this transaction by the Protestant clergyman, Doctor Warner:-

“As soon as Cromwell had ordered his batteries to play on a distant quarter of the town, on his summons being rejected, Stafford” (the command of the garrison) “admitted his men into the castle, from whence issuing suddenly, and attacking the wall and gate adjoining, they were admitted, either through the treachery of the townsmen or the cowardice of the soldiers, or perhaps both; and the slaughter was almost as great as at Drogheda.” – Warner, 476.

The most recent historian, Dr. Lingard, has added from the original authorities, the following most striking and melancholy circumstance:-

“No distinction was made between the defenceless inhabitant and the armed soldier; nor could the shrieks and prayers of 300 females, who had gathered around the great cross, preserve them from the swords of those ruthless barbarians. By Cromwell himself the number of the slain is reduced to two, by some writers it has been swelled to five, thousand.” – Lingard, A.D. 1649.

Three hundred women screaming for pity, round the emblem of salvation – the cross. Three hundred Irish women slaughtered in one mass – by English Protestant “Christians” – men of great zeal and profound piety!

Slaughter in Drogheda

I now come back to Drogheda. And as the slaughter there is a subject to be dwelt upon, I will give three different versions of it; I do so, because each contains some circumstances not specified in the others. Here are the accounts of Carte and Leland:

“The assault was given, and his” (Cromwell’s) "men twice repulsed; but in this third attack, Colonel Wall being unhappily killed at the head of his regiment, his men were so dismayed thereby, as to listen, before they had any need, to the enemy offering them quarter, admitting them” (viz. Cromwell’s army) “upon those terms, and thereby betraying themselves and their fellow soldiers to the slaughter. All the officers and soldiers of Cromwell’s army promised quarter to such as would lay down their arms, and performed it as long as the place held out; which encouraged others to yield. But when they had once all in their power and feared no hurt that could be done them, Cromwell, being told by Jones, that he had now all the flower of the Irish army in his hands, gave orders that no quarter should be given! So that his soldiers were forced, many of them against their will, to kill their prisoners! The brave governor Sir A. Aston, Sir Edward Verney, the Colonels Warren, Fleming, and Byrne, WERE KILLED IN COLD BLOOD: AND INDEED ALL THE OFFICERS, except some of the least consideration, that escaped by miracle. The Marquis of Ormond, in his letters to the King and Lord Byron, says, ‘THAT ON THIS OCCASION CROMWELL EXCEEDED HIMSELF, AND ANYTHING HE HAD EVER HEARD OF, IN BREACH OF FAITH AND BLOODY INHUMANITY; AND THAT THE CRUELTIES EXERCISED THERE FOR FIVE DAYS AFTER THE TOWN WAS TAKEN, WOULD MAKE AS MANY SEVERAL PICTURES OF INHUMANITY AS THE BOOK OF MARTYRS OR THE RELATION OF AMBOYNA.’” –Carte, II. 84.

Leland adds –

“A number of ecclesiastics were found within the walls; and Cromwell, as if immediately commissioned to execute divine vengeance on these ministers of idolatry, ordered his soldiers to plunge their weapons into the helpless wretches.” – Leland, Book VI. chap. 4.

I next give the account of Lord Clarendon. Here it is:-

“Before the Marquis of Ormond could draw his army together, Cromwell had besieged Tredah” [Drogheda] “and though the garrison was so strong in point of number, and that number of so choice men that they could wish for nothing more than that the enemy would attempt to take them by storm, the very next day after he came before the town, he gave a general assault, and was beaten off with considerable loss. But after a day more, he assaulted it again in two places, with so much courage that he entered in both; and though the governor and some of the chief officers retired in disorder into a fort where they hoped to have made conditions, a panic fear so possessed the soldiers that they threw down their arms upon a general offer of quarter: so that the enemy entered the works without resistance, and put every man, governor, officer, and soldier, to the sword: and the whole army being entered the town, they executed all manner of cruelty, and put every man that related to the garrison, and all the citizens who were Irish, man, woman, and child, to the sword; and there being three or four officers of name, and of good families, who had found some way, by the humanity of some soldiers of the enemy, to conceal themselves for four or five days, being afterwards discovered, they were butchered in cold blood.” – Lord Clarendon’s History, vol. VI. 395.

Let the reader again peruse the above account. It is worth any Englishman’s while to read it thrice over. For an Irishman once would be enough.

I shall now give the statement from Lingard:-

“Aware that the royalists could assemble no army in the field, he marched to the siege of Drogheda. The defences of the place were contemptible; but the garrison consisted of two thousand five hundred chosen men, and the governor, Sir Arthur Aston, had earned in the civil war the reputation of a brave and experienced officer. In two days a breach was made; but Aston ordered trenches to be dug within the wall, and the assailants on their first attempt were quickly repulsed. In the second, more than a thousand men penetrated through the breach; but they suffered severely for their temerity, and were driven back with considerable loss. Cromwell now placed himself at the head of the reserve, and led them to the assault, animating them with his voice and example. In the heat of the conflict, it chanced that the officer who defended one of the trenches fell; his men wavered: quarter was offered and accepted; and the enemy, surmounting the breastwork, obtained possession of the bridge, entered the town, and successively overcame all opposition. The pledge which had been given was now violated; and, as soon as resistance ceased, a general massacre was ordered or tolerated by Cromwell. During five days the streets of Drogheda ran with blood; revenge and fanaticism stimulated the passions of the soldiers: from the garrison THEY TURNED THEIR SWORDS AGAINST THE INHABITANTS, AND ONE THOUSAND UNRESISTING VICTIMS WERE IMMOLATED TOGETHER WITHIN THE WALLS OF THE GREAT CHURCH, WHITHER THEY HAD FLED FOR PROTECTION.” – Lingard’s England, A. D. 1649.

I believe there is not in the history of Christendom a more horrible instance of quiet, deliberate cruelty, systematic and cold-blooded. First, the garrison who were promised quarter, and who, on the faith of that promise, had ceased to resist, were slaughtered deliberately and in detail. And next, the unoffending inhabitants were for five days deliberately picked out and put to death- the men, the women, and even the little children. And this was done, not by New Zealand savages, but by Christian Englishmen – the choice spirits of the age – men of the most intense piety and Protestant sanctity – every man of them with his Bible in one hand and his sword in the other! Men overflowing with scripture quotations – men fond of preaching, or listening to, long sermons – praying long prayers – full of all that there is of ascetism in their English Christianity!

Would not these English “Christians” spare the unarmed citizens? Surely they could fear no danger from the hapless females? Would they not at least spare the children – the infants?

Oh, England! England! in what letters of blood have you not written your cruel domination in Ireland! It is true that the garrison deserved their fate. They put faith in an English promise made to Irishmen – Sir Arthur Aston, Sir Edward Verney, Colonel Bryne, and the rest of them. Fie upon them – oh, fie! They did indeed deserve their fate!

What a trumpet-tongued lesson to Irishmen! But such times can never come again.

There is in this fiendish transaction one colouring yet wanted, to make the monsters who committed it more hideous than the devils in hell. It is the colouring of hypocrisy. Let the reader, if he can, calmly peruse Cromwell’s own despatch; and then admit with me, that human language is utterly inadequate to describe the ineffable horror of the English crime. Here are extracts from Cromwell’s despatch to the Speaker of the  House of Commons:-


“It has PLEASED GOD to bless our endeavours at Drogheda”…

One shudders at such an introduction of the name of the adorable Creator – the God of mercy and of charity! I begin again:-


“It has pleased God to bless our endeavours at Drogheda. After battering we stormed it. The enemy were about 3,000 strong in the town.”

Cromwell then goes on to describe shortly the circumstances of the attack of the slaughter; and coolly says.-

“I believe we put to the sword the whole number of the defendants. I do not think thirty of the whole number escaped with their lives; and those that did, are in safe custody for the Barbadoes.”

He then goes on as follows:-

“THIS HATH BEEN A MARVELLOUS GREAT MERCY. The enemy being not willing to put an issue upon a field of battle, had put into this garrison almost all their prime soldiers, being about 3,000 horse and foot, under the command of their best officers, Sir Arthur Aston being made governor. There were some seven or eight regiments, Ormond’s being one, under the command of Sir Edward Verney. I do not believe, neither do I hear, that any officer escaped with his life, save only one lieutenant.

Could any one imagine that human nature could be so destitute of all that belongs to humanity, or to religion, as to be capable of calling such cruelty “a marvellous great mercy?” Oh, it was truly an English mercy! But there is more; for this is the conclusion of Cromwell’s despatch:-


The flesh creeps – the heart sinks, at the unparalleled atrocity, profanity, and blasphemy of such a despatch. But exclamations weaken the horrors by which we are thus surrounded.

Perhaps some persons may be found so absurdly credulous as to believe that the English parliament revolted at the cruelty perpetrated by Cromwell; and that they inflicted upon his sanguinary barbarity, if not punishment, at least censure. No such thing. The victims were Irish Catholics; and it is manifest that the English parliament had not only no sympathy but no humanity for the unhappy natives of Ireland. To cap the climax of English atrocity, let the following extract from the Journals of the House of Commons be read:-

“1649- October 2nd. This day the House received despatches from the Lord Lieutenant Cromwell, dated Dublin, September 17th, giving an account of the taking of Drogheda. For this important success of the parliament’s forces in Ireland, the House appointed A THANKSGIVING DAY to be held on the 1st of November ensuing throughout the nation. They likewise ordered that a Declaration should be prepared and sent into the several counties, signifying the grounds for setting apart that day of public thanksgiving. A letter of thanks was also voted to be sent to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; and to be communicated to the officers there; in which notice was to be taken, THAT THE HOUSE DID APPROVE OF THE EXECUTION DONE AT DROGHEDA, as an act both of justice to them, and mercy to others who may be warned by it.” – Parliamentary Hist. vol. III. P. 1334.

I am sickened and disgusted with the hideous catalogue of English crimes. I could multiply the instances tenfold; but I have given enough, and infinitely more than enough, to satisfy every human being that no country on the face of the earth ever suffered so much from another as Ireland has suffered from England: nor is any county on the face of the earth so stained with diabolic cruelty as England in her conduct towards Ireland!

Religious bigotry inflamed and augmented the national hostility of England to Irishmen. To show how distinctly the purpose of exterminating the Catholic people of Ireland for the good of the Protestant religion was avowed by the first authorities in the State, let me here quote the following testimony from page 55 of a book of Cromwell’s acts, entitled “Cromwelliana:”-

April 12, 1649. Those who were appointed to go to the Common Council about the furnishing £120,000, came unto Guildhall. The first that spoke was Mr. Lisle: after him Mr. Whitlock, who very notably urged the accommodation of the parliament with the sum appointed for the service of Ireland: after whom the Lord Chief Baron Wild did press the same with many arguments, and among others he rightly distinguished the state of the war in that kingdom as not being between Protestant and Protestant, or Independent and Presbyterian, but PAPIST AND PROTESTANT; and that was the interest there; PAPACY OR POPERY BEING NOT TO BE ENDURED IN THAT KINGDOM; which notably agreed with that maxim of King James, when first King of the three kingdoms: ‘Plant Ireland with Puritans, and ROOT OUT PAPISTS – and then secure it.’”

Cromwell gorged himself with human blood. He committed the most hideous slaughters; deliberate, cold-blooded, persevering. He stained the annals of the English people with guilt of a blacker dye than has stained any other nation on earth.

And – after all – for what? What did he gain by it? Some four or five years of unsettled and precarious power! And if his hideous corpse was interred in a royal grave, it was so, only to have his bones thence transferred to a gibbet!

Was it for this that he deliberately slaughtered thousands of men, women, and children? Female loveliness, and the innocent and beautiful boy – aged but seven years – of Colonel Washington?

It has often been said that it was not the people, but the Government of England, who were guilty of the attempts to exterminate the Irish nation. The observation is absurd. The Government had at all times in their slaughter of the Irish the approbation of the English people. Even the present administration is popular in England in the precise proportion of the hatred they exhibit to the Irish people; and this is a proposition of historic and perpetual truth. But to the Cromwellian wars, the distinction between the people and the Government could never apply. These were the wars, emphatically, of the English people. They were empathically the most cruel and murderous wars the Irish ever sustained.

The natural result of the promiscuous slaughter of the unarmed peasantry wherever the English soldiers could lay hold on them, was, as a matter of course, an appalling famine. The ploughman was killed in the half-ploughed field. The labourer met his death at the spade. The haymaker was himself mowed down. A universal famine, and its necessary concomitant – pestilence, covered the land. An eye-witness – himself employed in hunting to death the Irish – has left the description which follows: and although the victims were Irish, yet possibly in the present day their miseries may draw a tear from English eyes. Thus was consummated English Protestant power:-

“About the year 1652 and 1653, the plague and famine had so swept away whole countries, that a man might travel twenty or thirty miles and not see a living creature, either man, beast, or bird; they being either all dead, or had quit those desolate places; our soldiers would tell stories of the place where they saw a smoak; it was so rare to see either smoak by day or fire or candle by night. And when we did meet with two or three poor cabins, none but very aged men, with women and children, and those, like the prophet, might have complained, ‘We are become as a bottle in the smoak, our skin is black like an oven because of the terrible famine.’ – I have seen those miserable creatures plucking stinking carrion out of a ditch, black and rotten, and been credibly informed that they digged corpse out of the grave to eat; but the most tragical story I ever heard was from an officer commanding a party of horse, who, HUNTING FOR TORIES IN A DARK NIGHT, discovered a light, which they supposed to be a fire, which the tories usually made in those waste countries to dress their provisions and warm themselves; but drawing near, they found it a ruined cabin, and besetting it round, some did alight, and peeping at the window, where they saw a great fire of wood, and a company of miserable old women and children sitting round about it, and betwixt them and the fire, a dead corpse lay broiling, which, as the first roasted, they cut off collops, and eat.” – Colonel Laurence’s Interest of Ireland, part 2, pp. 86, 87.

Such, I repeat, were the demoniacal means by which Protestantism and English power achieved and consummated their ascendancy in Ireland.

[1] Among the Protestants of note then living, to whom the writer of the work now quoted appeals for the truth of his statement, are Sir Audley Mervyn, Sir Robert Hannah, (the father of Lady Mountrath,) and several general and other officers.