Front Page Titles (by Subject) Sect. IV.—: Protestant Colonisation—Charles I. - Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, vol. 1
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Sect. IV.—: Protestant Colonisation—Charles I. - Gustave de Beaumont, Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, vol. 1 
Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, ed. W.C. Taylor (London: Richard Bentley, 1839). Vol. 1.
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Protestant Colonisation—Charles I.
James had discovered a tyrannical expedient, of which his successor, Charles I., did not fail to take advantage.
There was in Ireland one province which had hitherto escaped every attempt at colonisation, that of Connaught. The viceroy, Wentworth, afterwards Earl of Strafford, resolved to dispossess all the inhabitants of this vast country, and confiscate it to the king, who might afterwards dispose of it at his pleasure. To accomplish this enterprise, he took with him judges and soldiers, the first to falsify the law,* the second to violate it.† Both agents admirably answered his expectations. The lawyers suddenly discovered that all the grants made by preceding kings to the actual proprietors or their ancestors were null and void, and that Connaught had no lawful proprietors but the king. It was not sufficient to discover the defect of titles, it was further necessary that the proprietors should recognise it, and withdraw; if they did not go of their own accord, they should be constrained to abandon their estates by force, and this was the business of the soldiers. Preceded by an imposing army, Strafford traversed the country, spreading terror everywhere, and receiving everywhere the most servile submission. Still, when he reached the county of Galway, Strafford was stopped in his progress by the resistance of the inhabitants: in this county, though bent under severe despotism, there were still certain legal forms inherent in the government and the manners of the conquerors. A jury was empannelled in Galway to decide between the crown and the occupants of the land. Strafford spared no pains to obtain a verdict for the king.* Still the jurors found for the defendants.† This fact alone would be sufficient to prove that there are guarantees and protection in a jury, which will triumph over the chicanery of fraud and the menaces of force. When Strafford heard the verdict he flew into a passion—on his own authority he fined Darcy the sheriff 1,000l. for empannelling an improper jury—he arrested the jurors themselves, and brought them before the Court of Star-chamber in Dublin, where each of them was sentenced to pay a fine of 4,000l., and to acknowledge himself guilty of perjury on his knees. All had the courage to refuse this humiliating proposition. Some time after, Strafford wrote to Wandesford, another servant of Charles, and Strafford’s successor in the government of Ireland—
“I hope that I shall not be refused the life of Sheriff Darcy; my arrows are cruel that wound so mortally, but it is necessary that the king should keep his rights.”
Darcy was not executed, but he died of severe treatment in prison. A new jury was summoned, which, under the salutary influence of terror, found that in all time the county of Galway, like the rest of Connaught, belonged to the king; and this sentence placed all the proprietors at the mercy of the king.* Trial by jury, though one of the most vital institutions, does not save a country from the insolence of despotism, when despotism is established; still a jury defends the citizens better than any other tribunal. If it yields to corruption, it surprises the people, who believed it independent; if it resists, and fails in its resistance, it does not save those whom it wished to protect; but, associated with their misfortunes, it renders their cause more popular, and the oppression which weighs upon them more striking. In either case it sets tyranny in bolder relief.
If we consult the sentence pronounced against Strafford by the parliament of England, we are led to believe that the violence offered to the Galway jury was not the only nor the worst outrage of the kind committed by Strafford in Ireland. One of the reasons assigned for his condemnation was, “Considering that juries who had given their verdict according to their consciences have been censured in the court of Star-chamber, severely fined, sometimes exposed in the pillory, have had their ears cut off, their tongues pierced, their foreheads branded,” &c.*
Too happy to be able to please his English parliament by exercising his royal prerogative, Charles I. would have gladly plundered all the Catholics of Ireland, and bestowed their estates upon English Protestants, but even his tyranny in Ireland could not procure him pardon for his arbitrary government of England. To such a degree was popular indignation excited, that the tyranny towards Ireland was actually made a ground of complaint against Strafford. The royal authority was already greatly shaken (ad 1640); the king then suddenly ceased from oppressing the Irish, whose support he was anxious to secure in case of a reverse. The entire project of colonisation was abandoned; the Irish were assured that there never was a thought of plundering them. When you see a Stuart just towards Ireland, be well assured that his authority is tottering in England.
[*]Strafford’s own letters contain the most minute accounts of this mystery of iniquity.—He tells his correspondent that “he obtained a grant of four shillings in the pound, out of the first year’s rent of every estate vested in the crown by these inquisitions, to the judges who presided at the trial.”—Tr.
[†]Strafford says, “He took with him to each town where an inquisition was held five hundred horsemen as good lookers on.”—Tr.
[*]Strafford himself says, that “he inquired out fit men to serve on juries.”—Tr.
[†]They took courage, because they hoped that they would be supported by the influence of the Earl of Clanricarde.—Tr.
[*]The narrative would not be complete unless it was added, that the Irish proprietors had actually paid one hundred thousand pounds to the king for the concession of certain graces, of which the security of property was one. Charles took the money, but, by Strafford’s advice, refused to perform the conditions.
[*]See Parliamentary History, and Hardiman’s Galway, 105.—Tr.