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   Chapter 41 THE ACT OF SETTLEMENT.

The Story of Ireland By Emily Lawless Characters: 4118

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


Cromwell was now dead, and after a very short attempt at government his son Richard had relinquished the reins and retired into private life. Henry Cromwell, who had for several years been Lord-Lieutenant in Ireland, and had won no little liking by his mild and equable rule, also honourably resigned at the same time, and left. Coote, on the other hand, and Broghill, both of whom had acquired immense estates under the Cromwellian rule, were amongst the foremost to hail the Restoration, and to secure their own interests by being eager to welcome the king. Such secular vicars of Bray were not likely to suffer whatever king or government came uppermost.

To the exiled proprietors, who had fought for that king's father and for himself, it naturally seemed that the time had come for their sufferings and exile to end. Now that the king had been restored to his own again, they who had been punished for his sake should also, they thought, in fairness, again enjoy what had been theirs before the war.

Charles's position, it must be acknowledged, was a very difficult one. Late found as it was, the loyalty

HENRY CROMWELL, LORD-LIEUTENANT FROM 1657 TO 1660.

(From a Mezzotint.)]

of Coote, Broghill, and others of their stamp had been eminently convenient, as without it the army in Ireland would hardly have returned to its allegiance. To deprive them of what they had acquired was felt to be out of the question, and the same argument applied, with no little force, to many of the other newly-made proprietors. The feeling, too, against the Irish Catholics was far from having died out in England, and anything like a wholesale ejection of the new Protestant settlers for their benefit, would have been very badly received there.

On the other hand, decency and the commonest sense of honour required that something should be done. Ormond, who had been made a duke, was at once reinstated in his own lands, with a handsome additional slice as a recompense for his services. A certain number of other great proprietors and lords of the Pal

e, a list of whom was rather capriciously made out, were also immediately reinstated. For the rest, more tardy and less satisfactory justice was to be meted.

A Court of Claims was set up in Dublin to try the cases of those who claimed, during the late war, to have been upon the king's side. Those who could prove their entire innocence of the original rebellion were to be at once reinstated; those, on the other hand, who were in arms before '49, or who had been at any time joined to the party of Rinucini, or had held any correspondence, even accidentally, with that party, were to be excluded, and if they had received lands in Connaught might stay there and be thankful.

A wearisome period of endless dispute, chicanery, and wrangling followed this decision. As the soldiers and adventurers were only to be dispossessed in case of a sufficiency of reserved lands being found to compensate them, it followed that the fewer of the original proprietors that could prove their loyalty the better for the Government. At the first sitting of the Court of Claims the vast majority of those whose cases were tried were able thus to prove their innocence; and as all these had a claim to be reinstated, great alarm was felt, and a clamour of indignation arose from the new proprietors, at which the Government, taking alarm, made short work of many of the remaining claims, whereupon a fresh, and certainly not less reasonable, clamour was raised upon the other side.

The end of the long-drawn struggle may be stated in a few words. The soldiers, adventures, and debenture holders agreed at length to accept two-thirds of their land, and to give up the other third, and on this arrangement, by slow degrees, the country settled down. As a net result of the whole settlement we find that, whereas before '41 the Irish Roman Catholics had held two-thirds of the good land and all the waste, after the Restoration they held only one-third in all, and this, too, after more than two millions of acres previously forfeited had been restored to them.

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