Front Page Titles (by Subject) [CHAPTER XIII.]: Several Miscellany Remarks and Intimations concerning Ireland, and the several matters aforementioned. - The Economic Writings of Sir William Petty, vol. 1
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
[CHAPTER XIII.]: Several Miscellany Remarks and Intimations concerning Ireland, and the several matters aforementioned. - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Several Miscellany Remarks and Intimations concerning Ireland, and the several matters aforementioned.
WIthout recourse to the Authority of Story, but rather diligently observing the Law and Course of Nature, I conjecture, that whatever is fabled of the Phœnicians, Scythians, Biscayers, &c. their first Inhabiting of Ireland; that the places near Carrickfergus were first peopled, and that with those, who came from the parts of Scotland opposite thereunto1 . For that Ireland was planted by some body in Cœsar's time, is most certain. That the Art of Navigation was not before Cœsar's time so well understood and practis'd, as to bring Men from any other Part of the World thither, save from Great Britain: That from St. Davids-head in South-Wales, and from Holy-head in North-Wales, Ireland is not clearly at any time discern'd, nor often at all. That the Inhabitants of those two British Head-lands had neither Boats fit to pass that Sea, is most probable. But that Carrickfergus may be always seen from Scotland, is well known; and that a small ‖ Boat may Row over in three or four hours, is experienc'd. That the Language of those Parts differ very little. That the Country about Carrickfergus is far better than that of Scotland opposite. That the chief Bishops Seat of Ireland, and probably the first, is near those Parts, are all notorious Truths. From all which ‘tis more probable, that Ireland was first Peopled from Scotland2 , than all the other remote Parts aforementioned.
It hath been much observed, That the Lieutenants and Chancellors of Ireland have often been at variance; the reason whereof seems to be at their Powers, and1 too near an Equilibrium2 ; for the Lieutenant Commands an Army perhaps of 3000, and the Chancellor makes 900 Justices of Peace, who make 2500 Constables, which are the Civil Sword, who Act in times of Peace, and every where, and in all matters; whereas the Army acts only upon rare occasions, and are more Mercenary Men. So as the Civil-Sword seems of far more extent and effect than the Military-Sword.
The Lieutenant disposes perhaps of four or five hundred Places and Imployments; but the Chancellor, of the said nine hundred ‖ Justices of Peace, and several others. The Lieutenant can hurt very few Persons, who do not depend upon the favour of Imployments; but the Chancellor can affect all Men, of Estates and Dealing in the World, by the Power of his Court, and by the Harmony of his own Will with the King's Conscience.
The Lieutenant is for the most part a Stranger to Ireland; but the Chancellor seldom such, but a Person of great Family and Acquaintance. Moreover, all the Lieutenants, Deputies, and Lords Justices, that have been these 150 years, have not, one with another, continued two years in the Office; but the Chancellors have much more, and are seldom remov'd but by Death, and General Revolutions. The Chancellor has ordinarily some other Dignity and Office annex'd, for they be often Eminent Prelates and Church-men; but the Lieutenant is confin'd to Temporals. The Chancellor is Speaker in Parliament, and by keeping the Seal, can check the Lieutenant in many cases. The Chancellors are bred to Eloquence and Arguing; the breeding of a Lieutenant is casual. ‖
Men that bring great Estates into Ireland, do not encrease them proportionably with them who come over with nothing. Not to quote the Examples hereof on both sides, the reason seems not to be very abstruse, viz.1
The Language of Ireland is like that of the North of Scotland, in many things like the Welch and Manques; but in Ireland the Fingallians speak neither English, Irish, nor Welch; and the People about Wexford, tho they agree in a Language differing from English, Welch, and Irish, yet ‘tis not the same with that of the Fingalians near Dublin. Both these two sorts of People are honest and laborious Members of the Kingdom.
The Irish Language, and the Welch, as also all Languages that have not been the Languages of flourishing Empires, wherein were many Things, many Notions and Fancies, both Poetical and Philosophical, hath but few words; and all the names of Artificial things brought into use, since the Empire of these Linguists ceased, are expressed in the language of their Conquerors, by altering the Termination and Accents only.‖
Ireland is now divided into Provinces, Counties, Baronies, Parishes, and Farm-lands, and those, so as that they may be, and have been Geometrically delineated; but formerly it was not so, but the Country was called by the names of the Lords who governed the People. For as a Territory bounded by Bogs, is greater or lesser as the Bog is more dry and passible, or otherwise: So the Country of a Grandee or Tierne in Ireland, became greater or lesser as his Forces waxed or weaned2 ; for where was a large Castle and Garison, there the Jurisdiction was also large.
3 And when these Grandees came to make peace, and parts one with another, the limits of their Land-agreements were no lines Geometrically drawn; but if the Rain fell one way, then the Land whereon it fell, did belong to A. if the other way, to B. &c.
As to their Town-lands, Plough-lands, Colps, Gneeres, Bullibos, Ballibelaghs, Two's, Horsmens, Beds1 , &c. they are all at this day become unequal both in Quantity and Value, having been made upon grounds which are now Obsolete and Antiquated. ‖
For sometimes lands were divided by what certain Societies of men held, which I conceive were Town-lands or Tythings.
Sometimes by Plow-lands2 , viz. such a————of Lands as contained enough of every species of Land Arrable, Meadow, and Pasture, Mountain, Turf-bog, Wood, &c. as serv'd for the whole Use of man, especially of the Owner of such a Plow-land.
3 Sometimes by the Share or Proportion of Land, which an Undertaker would engage to plant and defend according to Articles.
Sometimes by what belonged to the Cell of some Religious Man or Men. But now all the Lands are Geometrically divided, and that without abolishing the Ancient Denominations5 and Divisions abovementioned. So that it is yet wanting to prevent the various spelling of Names not understood, that some both6 comprehending the Names of all publick Denominations according as they are spelled in the latest Grants, should be set out by Authority7 to determine the ‖ same for the time to come. And that where the same Land hath other Names, or hath been spelled with other Conscription of Letters or Syllables, that the same be mentioned with an alias. Where the publick and new authenticated Denominations1 is part of a greater antiquated Denomination, that it be so expressed, as by being called the East, West, South or North part thereof. And if the said Denomination comprehend several obsolete or inconsiderable Parcels, that the same be expressed likewise.
The last Clause of the Explanatory Act, enabled men to put new Names on their respective Lands, instead of those uncouth, unintelligible ones yet upon them. And it would not be amiss if the significant part of the Irish Names were interpreted, where they are not, or cannot be abolished2 . ‖
SOME have thought that little Shipping belongs to Ireland, by the great Policy of the English, who (as they wittily expressed it) would keep the Chain or Draw-Bridge between both Kingdoms, on the English side: But I never perceived ány Impediment of Building, or having Ships in Ireland, but mens own indisposition thereunto, either for not having Stock for so chargeable a Work, or not having Workmen of sorts enough to fit out a Ship in all particulars; as for that they could hire Ships cheaper from the Dutch, than to build them; or, that the Irish had rather eat Potatos and Milk on dry Land, than contest with the Wind and Waves with better Food; or that there is not encouragement, to a full Employment, for an able Ship-wright to reside in Ireland. Nevertheless at this day there belongs to several Ports of Ireland Vessels between 10 and 200 Tuns, about 8000 Tuns of several sorts and Sizes: And there are Five Light-Houses erected for the safety of sailing upon the Coasts.
Concerning the Ambergreece, taken upon the Western Coasts of Ireland, I could never ‖ receive any clear satisfaction, neither of its Odor, nor any other Vertue, nor what use was or could be made of that Stuff which has been so call'd, which is of several Appearances.
What is said of the Herb Mackenbory1 , is fabulous, only that ‘tis a Tythemal, which will purge furiously, and of which there are vast quantities in that part of Kerry call'd Desmond, where the Arbutus-Tree groweth in great numbers and beauty.
There be in Ireland not ten Iron Furnaces2 , but above 20 Forges and Bloomeries, and but one Lead-work, which was ever wrought, tho many in view, which the pretended Patents of them have hindred the working of. There is also a place in Kerry, fit for one Allum-work, attempted, but not fully proceeded upon3 .
There are in the West of Ireland, about 20 Gentlemen, who have engaged in the Pilchard-fishing, and have among them all about 160 Saynes, wherewith they sometimes take about 4000 Hogsheads of Pilchards per Ann. worth about 10,000l. Cork, Kingsale, and Bantry are the best places for eating of Fresh-Fish, tho Dublin be not, or need not be ill supplied with the same. ‖
The Clothing-Trade is not arrived to what it was before the late Rebellion4 . And the Art of making the excellent, thick, spungy, warm Coverlets, seems to be lost, and not yet recovered.
The English in Ireland before Henry the VII's time, lived in Ireland as the Europians do in America, or as several Nations do now upon the same Continent; so as an Englishman was not punishable for killing an Irish-man, and they were governed by different Laws; the Irish by the Brehan- Law, and the English there by the Laws of England.
Registers of Burials, Births and Marriages, are not yet kept in Ireland, though of late begun in Dublin, but imperfectly1 .
English in Ireland, growing poor and discontented, degenerate into Irish; & vice versa; Irish, growing into Wealth and Favour, reconcile to the English.
Eleven Irish Miles make 14 English, according to the proportion of the Irish Perch of 21 feet, to the English of 16½.‖
The admeasurement of Land in Ireland, hath hitherto been made with a Circumferencer, with a Needle of 3 ⅓ long, as the most convenient Proportion; but ‘twill be henceforth better done by the help of some old Geometrical Theoremes, joyn'd with this new property of a Circle, demonstrated by Dr. R. Wood2 .
The DIAGRAM3 .
ALtho the Protestants of Ireland, be to Papists, as three to eight; yet, because the former live in Cities and Towns, and the Scots live all in and about five of the 32 Counties of Ireland; It seems, in other open Counties, and without the Corporations, that the Irish and Papists are twenty to one.
Cox, ‘It is allowed by all antiquarys yt Scotland was peopled from Ireland & therefore calld Scotia minor: And ye names of (firbolg or Belgi) and (Tuahde-danaan or Damnonii) which inhabited Cornwall and other ptes of England doe manifest yt those people wch first dwelt in Ireland came from Engld.’
1719 omits ‘than… aforementioned.’
 So in S. Conjectural emendation, ‘be that their Powers are.’ 1719, ‘be their Powers were.’
 Cox, ‘It is not soe yt ye Chanr has an equall power to ye Ld Leivt: nor did our Author ascribe it to him for any other cause then to ridicule ye exorbitant power yt he thought was usd by that court to his prejudice in several causes which occasioned him thus to chant
On Petty's trouble with ‘the two chanceries’ see Fitzmaurice, 169–172.
In the margin of S, ‘q’; after ‘viz.’ several lines blank.
No paragraph in S.
A term so indefinite that by acts of 4, 8 and 9 Anne a grand jury was to determine whether a specific parish had plough-lands, and was obliged in consequence to work the roads, or not. Mountmorres, Hist. of the Irish Parliament, II. 126–127.
In S these paragraphs are transposed.
In S these paragraphs are transposed.
Prendergast, Cronrwellian Settlement, 2d. ed., 44 n.
From this point, where ‘Denominations’ is corrected from ‘Demesnes,’ to the end of the MS. occasional blanks left by the copyist of S are filled in by a hand which I take to be Petty's.
1719, ‘that some Person or Persons who can rightly comprehend the names of all publick Denominations according as they are spelled in the atest Grants, should be appointed by Authority.’
S, ‘Although I know almost nothing of the Irish Tongue, yet I have collected the following Words, by the composure of which one with another the Names of most lands in Ireland are constituted, vizt.
S, ‘Mackenbuoy.’ The last three letters added in Petty's hand.
Fitzmaurice says that Petty had iron and copper works at Kenmare. P. 149.
‘Petty in his writings makes mention of Allum Works having been formerly erected in this county. But in what particular part of it I could never learn.’ Charles Smith, Antient and present State of the County of Kerry (1758), p. 398.
Cox, ‘That ye Clothing Trade is not arrived to wt it was before ye rebellion, is certainly a mistake now, what ever it was in 1672.’
S, ‘where…. Tuns.’
S, ‘and…. in one season.’
See the Note to the Observations upon the Dublin Bills.
Robert Wood was born at Pepper Harrow near Godalming, Surrey, about 1622. He was educated at Eton and at New Inn Hall, Oxford, and became B.A. of Merton College in 1647. He was a parliamentary fellow of Lincoln, a ‘retainer’ of Henry Cromwell in Ireland and a frequenter of the Rota club. It is therefore probable that Petty and he had been long acquainted. He became mathematical master at Christ's Hospital School, and subsequently accountant general of revenue in Ireland, and contributed several papers to the Philos. Trans. Wood, Athena Oxon., 11. 780; Burroughs, Register, 508; Foster, Alumni Oxon.; Fitzmaurice, 264. Since Petty failed to give the promised diagram “it is not known what particular quality of the circle is here referred to as demonstrated by” Wood.—General Larcom in Petty's Hist. of the Down Survey, 323.
In S half a page is left blank, apparently for the insertion of the diagram.