Front Page Titles (by Subject) [CHAPTER V]: Of the future Settlement of Ireland, Prorogation of Rebellions, and its Union with England. - The Economic Writings of Sir William Petty, vol. 1
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[CHAPTER V]: Of the future Settlement of Ireland, Prorogation of Rebellions, and its Union with England. - Sir William Petty, The Economic Writings of Sir William Petty, vol. 1 
The Economic Writings of Sir William Petty, together with The Observations upon Bills of Mortality, more probably by Captain John Graunt, ed. Charles Henry Hull (Cambridge University Press, 1899), 2 vols.
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Of the future Settlement of Ireland, Prorogation of Rebellions, and its Union with England.
THE English invaded Ireland about 500 years since; at which time, if the Irish were in number about 1,200,000. Anno 1641, they were but 600 M. in number, 200 years ago, and not above 300,000 M.1 at the said time of their Invasion; for 300,000 people will, by the ordinary Course of Generation, become 1200 M. in 500 years; allowance being made for the Extraordinary Effects of Epidemical Diseases, Famines, Wars, &c.
There is at this Day no Monument or real Argument that, when the Irish were first invaded, they had any Stone-Housing at all, any Money, any Foreign Trade, nor any Learning1 but the Legend of the Saints, Psalters, Missals, Rituals, &c. viz. nor Geometry, Astronomy, Anatomy, Architecture, Enginery, Painting, Carving, nor any kind of Manufacture, nor the least use of Navigation, or the Art Military.
Sir John Davys2 hath expressed much Wit and Learning, in giving the Causes why Ireland was in no measure reduced to English ‖ Government, till in Queen Elizabeths Reign, and since; and withal offers several means, whereby what yet remains to be done, may be still effected.
The Conquest made by the English, and described in the Preamble of the Act of Parliament past Ann. 1662. for the Settlement of Ireland3 , gave means for any thing that had been reasonable of that kind; but their Forfeiters being abroad, and suffering with His Majesty from the same usurping hands, made some diversion.
Wherefore (Rebus sic stantibus) what is now to be done is the Question, viz. What may be done by natural possibility, if Authority saw it fit?
Some furious Spirits have wished, that the Irish would rebel again, that they might be put to the Sword. But I declare, that motion to be not only impious and inhumane, but withal frivolous and pernicious even to them who have rashly wish'd for those occasions.
That the Irish will not easily rebel again, I believe from the memory of their former Successes, especially of the last, had not many Providences interpos'd; and withal from the consideration of these following Particulars, viz. ‖
1. That the British Protestants and Church have ¾ of all the Lands; of all the Housing; of all the Housing in wall'd Towns, and Places of strength1 ⅔ of the Foreign Trade. That 6 of 8 of all the Irish live in a brutish nasty Condition, as in Cabins, with neither Chimney, Door, Stairs nor Window; feed chiefly upon Milk and Potatoes, whereby their Spirits are not dispos'd for War. And that although there be in Ireland 8 Papists for 3 others; yet there are far more Soldiers, and Soldierlike-Men of this latter and lesser Number, than of the former.
That His Majesty, who formerly could do nothing for, and upon Ireland, but by the help of England, hath now a Revenue upon the Place, to maintain, if he pleases, 7000 Men in Arms, besides a Protestant Militia of 25000 more, the most whereof are expert in War.
That the Protestants have Housing enough within Places of strength within 5 Miles of the Sea-side, to receive and protect, and harbour every Man, Woman and Child belonging to them, and have also places of strength of their own properly,2 so situate in all parts of Ireland, to which they can easily travel the shortest day of the year.‖
That being able so to secure their Persons, even upon all sudden Emergencies, they can be easily supplied out of England with Food sufficient to maintain them, till they have burnt 160 M. of their Stacks and Haggards of Corn, and disturbed their Tillage, which the embody'd British can soon and easily atchieve.
That a few Ships of War, whereof the Irish have none, nor no Skill or Practice of Navigation, can hinder their relief from all Foreign help.
That few Foreigners can help them if they would. But that none, not the King of France3 can gain advantage by so doing, even tho he succeeded. For England hath constantly lost these 500 years by their meddling with Ireland. And at this day, than when Ireland was never so rich and splendid, it were the advantage of the English to abandon their whole Interest in that Countrey; and fatal to any other Nation to take it, as hath been elsewhere (as I think) demonstrated1 ; and the advantage of the Landlords of England, to give them the Equivalent of what they should so quit out of their own Estates in England. ‖
Lastly, Let the Irish know, That there are, ever were, and will be men discontented with their present Conditions in England, and ready for any Exploit and Change, more than are sufficient to quell any Insurrection they can make and abide by.
Wherefore, declining all Military means of setling and securing Ireland in peace and Plenty, what we offer shall tend to the transmuting one People into the other, and the thorough union of Interests upon natural and lasting Principles; of which I shall enumerate several, tho seemingly never so uncouth and extravagant.
1. If Henry the II. had or could have brought over all the people of Ireland into England, declining the Benefit of their Land; he had fortified, beautified and enrich'd England, and done real Kindness to the Irish. But the same Work is near four times as hard now to be done as then; but it might be done, even now, with advantage to all Parties.
Whereas2 there are now 300 M. British, and 800 M. Papists, whereof 600 M. live in the wretched way above mentioned: If an Exchange was made of but about 200 M. Irish, and the like number of British brought ‖ over in their rooms, then the natural strength of the British would be equal to that of the Irish; but their Political and Artificial strength three times as great; and so visible, that the Irish would never stir upon a National or Religious Account.
3. There are among the 600 M. above-mentioned of the poor Irish, not above 20 M. of unmarried marriageable Women; nor would above two thousand per Ann. grow and become such. Wherefore if ½ the said Women were in one year, and ½ the next transported into England, and disposed of one to each Parish, and as many English brought back and married to the Irish, as would improve their Dwelling but to an House and Garden of 31. value, the whole Work of natural Transmutation and Union would in 4 or 5 years be accomplished.1
The charge of making the exchange would not be 20,000 l. per Ann. which is about 6 Weeks Pay of the present or late Armies in Ireland.
If the Irish must have Priests, let the number of them which is now between 2 and 3 thousand Secular and Regulars, be reduced to the competent number of 1000, which is 800 Souls to the pastorage of each Priest; which let be known persons, and ‖ English-men, if it may be. So as that when the Priests, who govern the Conscience, and the Women, who influence other powerful Appetites, shall be English, both of whom being in the Bosom of the Men, it must be, that no massacring of English, as heretofore, can happen again. Moreover, when the Language of the Children shall be English, and the whole Oeconomy of the Family English, viz. Diet, Apparel, &c. the Transmutation will be very easy and quick.
Add hereunto, That if both Kingdoms, now two, were put into one, and under one Legislative Power and Parliament, the Members whereof should be in the same proportion that the Power and Wealth of each Nation are, there would be no danger such a Parliament should do any thing to the prejudice of the English Interest in Ireland; nor could the Irish ever complain of partiality, when they shall be freely and proportionably represented in all Legislatures.1
The Inconveniences of the Not-Union, and Absurdities seem to be these, viz.
1. It is absurd, that English-men born, sent over into Ireland by the Commission ‖ of their own King, and there sacrificing their Lives for the King's Interest, and succeeding in his Service, should therefore be accounted Aliens, Foreigners, and also Enemies, such as were the Irish before Henry the VII. time; whom, if an English-man had then killed, he had suffer'd nothing for it; for it is but Indulgence and Connivance, that now the same is not still in force. For such formerly was the Condition of Irish-men; and that of English-men is now the same, otherwise than as Custom has relieved them.
It is absurd, that the Inhabitants of Ireland, naturally and necessarily bound to obey their Sovereign, should not be permitted to know who, or what the same is, i.e. Whether the Parliament of England, or that of Ireland; and in what Cases the one, and in what the other. Which uncertainty is or may be made a pretence for my Disobedience.2
It is absurd, that English-men in Ireland, should either be Aliens there, or else to be bound to Laws, in the making whereof they are not represented.
It is absurd if the Legislative Power be in Ireland, that the final judgment of Causes between man and man, should be in England, ‖ viz. the Writs of Error should remove Causes out of Ireland, to1 the King's Bench in England. That the final determination of Admiralty-Causes,2 and of some Causes-Ecclesrastical, should be also ended in England; nor that men should know whether the Chancery of England have jurisdiction in Ireland; and whether the Decrees of Chancery in one Chancery, can be executed in the other.
As for Inconveniences, it is one, That we should do to3 Trade between the two Kingdoms, as the Spaniards in the West-Indies do to all other Nations; for which cause all other Nations have war with them there.
And that a Ship trading from Ireland into the Islands of America, should be forced to unlade the Commodities shipt for Ireland in England, and afterwards bring them home; thereby necessitating the Owners of such goods to run unnecessary hazard and Expences.
It is inconvenient that the same King's Subjects should pay Customs as Aliens, passing from one part of the same their own King's Territories to another.
The chief Objection against the remedy of these Evils is; ‖
That his Majesty would by the Union lose much of his Double-Customs. Which being true, let's see what the same amounts unto; and if it be sufficient to hinder the remedy of these Evils, and if it be irreparable by some other way.
Ann. 1664. which was the best year of Trade that hath been these many years in Ireland, when neither Plague nor Wars impeached it, and when men were generally disposed to Splendor and Liberality,4 and when the Act for hindring Cattel coming out of Ireland into England, was not yet made5 ; nor that made for unlading in England Ships bound from America into Ireland; I say, in that year the Customs upon exported and imported Commodities, between Ireland and England, was but————but not ⅙ thereof, which since, how easily may it be added to the other Charges upon England and Ireland, which are together perhaps 1500 M. per Ann.?
2. If it be for the good of England to keep Ireland a distinct Kingdom, why do not the predominant Party in Parliament (suppose the Western Members) make England beyond Trent another Kingdom, under1 Commerce, and take Tolls and Customs upon the new Borders? Or why was there ‖ ever a Union between England and Wales, the good effects and fruits whereof were never questioned? And why may not the entire Kingdom of England be farther Cantoniz'd, and infinitely for the advantage of Parties?
As for the Practice; The Peers of Ireland assembled in Parliament, may depute so many of their number, as make the ⅛1 part of the Peers of England, to be call'd by Writ into the Lords-House of England: And the Commons in Ireland assembled in like manner, may depute the like proportion of other Members to sit with the Commons of England, the King and that House admitting of them.
But if the Parliament of England be already the Legislative Power of Ireland, why may they not call a competent Number out of Ireland, as aforesaid, or in some other more convenient manner?
All these Shifts and Expedients are necessary but for the first time, until the matter be agreed upon by both Nations, in some one Parliament.
‘Tis suppos'd that the Wealth of Ireland is about the ⅛ or of that of England; and the King's Revenue in both Kingdoms seems about that proportion. ‖
S, ‘300 M. 000.’ Cox, ‘That ye Ir were but 300000 in ye time of H. 2. I doe not believe, nor is yt method of computaction convincing for if 200 years agoe there were but half as many as now, & 200 years before but half yt number again & soe on, it would follow yt 1000 years agoe there were but of ye people now living.’
Cox, ‘he says Ir had no monument of Learning &c, to which I oppose ye Noted Verse in Cambden Brittania 2d pte (68:): Motus amore patrum et commot9 amore legendi Venit ad hibernos Sophia (mirabile) claros.’
A discoverie of the true causes why Ireland was neuer entirely subdued nor brought under Obedience of the Crowne of England untill the Beginning of his Majesties happy Raigne. Printed for John Iaggard, dwelling within the Temple Bar, at the Signe of the Hand and Star. 1612. 4° Frequently reprinted.
14 & 15 Charles II, c. 2, Ireland.
A comma here in the 1719 edition.
No comma in S.
Cox, ‘It is a paradox that ffrance could not be advantagd by ye acquisition of Ireland not intelligible to me, since our Author allows Ireland abounds in harbours and other conveiencyes of Trade, but what is more, it is so scituate yt it could at any time destroy ye Trade of Engld if in ye hands of a Potent or a Pyraticall enemy, and without those considerations, we know yt being well managd it is able to supply the Crowne of Engld with men money and other conveniences, & is since our Author wrote become an additional strength to Engld.’
Perhaps an allusion to the “digression” in chap. IV. of the Polit. Arith. Petty was working upon the Polit. Arith. in 1671, although he did not complete it until after the Polit. Anat.
S, ‘2. Whereas.’
Cox, ‘The expedient of Transmutacon is mistaken in ye sex, for if a million of women were married to as many poor Ir, it is certain they would degenerate into meer Irish & yt in a few years, experience proves my Assertion; besides in reason it must be soe, for women unless elevated by education and a principle of honr are less virtuous than men, yt is they are more easy & sooner allured by temptation or frightened by anything yt is like terrible, they are naturally more slothfull and love their ease, besides ye Irish naturally lord it over their wives & are not soe uxorious as we Eng but if a number of young boys were exchanged yearly it would do wt our Author designs for boys bred after ye English manner would not marry but with women soe bred, wherefore ye Ir women would betake themselves to Eng service to qualify themselves for such husbands.’
This scheme is further elaborated in the Treatise of Ireland.
S, ‘my disobedience’; 1719, ‘any Disobedience.’ It is not clear to what disobedience of his own Petty here refers. His arrest by order of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland took place to Feby. 1677. Fitzmaurice, 170.
Cf. Fitzmaurice, 247.
‘we should do to’ is not in S.
S, ‘libe and.’
By 15 Charles II., c. 7 (1663) a duty so high as to be practically prohibitive had been placed upon the importation of Irish cattle between I July and 20 December. On 18 October, 1665 a bill was introduced into the House of Commons prohibiting the importation of Irish cattle entirely. On the 20th it was advanced to a second reading and a public hearing before a committee was set for the 21st. Petty appeared with others against the measure, but they were refused a copy of the bill or even a list of its chief heads. They might hear it read once and immediately speak against it. The protesters declined to speak unprepared in a matter of such moment and prayed for delay that the Lord Lieutenant might be consulted. Delay was refused and the bill was ordered to be engrossed on the twenty-third. H. C. four., VIII. 617, 619, 620. Before the Lord's committee Petty appeared two or three times in opposition to the measure and sufficient delay was there secured to prevent its passage before the prorogation of Parliament, 31 October, 1665. Lord E. Fitzmaurice, who had MS. memoranda, says that the substance of Petty's argument is reproduced in ch. x. of the Polit. Anat. (p. 185post). Life, 142. It seems possible that some part of his argument was also printed at the time, as Thomas Thorpe had, in 1842, a printed sheet of Observations on the Irish Cattle Trade, which he attributed to Petty. Thorpe's Catalogue, 1842, no. 5597. The 27 November, 1667, a petition from Chester was presented in the House of Commons alleging infractions of 15 Charles II., c.7 and calling for a more stringent enactment. H.C. Jour., IX. 26–27. A bill was accordingly introduced 9 December and passed, after violent debate, the 2 March, 1668, declaring the importation from beyond seas of any great cattle, sheep or swine, or any beef, pork or bacon or of any ling, herring, cod, pilchard, salmon, eels or congers taken by foreigners aliens to the kingdom of England to be a nuisance. Such imports were therefore to be seized and sold for the benefit of the informer and of the poor of the parish. The debate in the House of Lords was even more violent then than in the Commons, and the bill was returned, 18 March, 1668, with amendments which were agreed to 30 March,—18 & 19 Charles II., c. 2. On the history of these measures see Parl. Hist., IV. 337–347, Clarendon's Life, P. 959 seq., Carte, Ormond, II. 317–323, 329–338, Fitzmaurice, 140–142.
1719, ‘One sixth.’