Rise and Progress of the Protestant Religion in Ireland; with an
Account of the Barbarous Massacre of 1641
The gloom of popery had overshadowed Ireland from its first establishment
there until the reign of Henry VIII when the rays of the Gospel
began to dispel the darkness, and afford that light which until
then had been unknown in that island. The abject ignorance in
which the people were held, with the absurd and superstitious
notions they entertained, were sufficiently evident to many; and
the artifices of their priests were so conspicuous, that several
persons of distinction, who had hitherto been strenuous papists,
would willingly have endeavored to shake off the yoke, and embrace
the Protestant religion; but the natural ferocity of the people,
and their strong attachment to the ridiculous doctrines which
they had been taught, made the attempt dangerous. It was, however,
at length undertaken, though attended with the most horrid and
The introduction of the Protestant religion into Ireland may be
principally attributed to George Browne, an Englishman, who was
consecrated archbishop of Dublin on the nineteenth of March, 1535.
He had formerly been an Augustine friar, and was promoted to the
mitre on account of his merit.
After having enjoyed his dignity about five years, he, at the
time that Henry VIII was suppressing the religious houses in England,
caused all the relics and images to be removed out of the two
cathedrals in Dublin, and the other churches in his diocese; in
the place of which he caused to be put up the Lord's Prayer, the
Creed, and the Ten Commandments.
A short time after this he received a letter from Thomas Cromwell,
lord-privy seal, informing him that Henry VIII having thrown off
the papal supremacy in England, was determined to do the like
in Ireland; and that he thereupon had appointed him (Archbishop
Browne) one of the commissioners for seeing this order put in
execution. The archbishop answered that he had employed his utmost
endeavors at the hazard of his life, to cause the Irish nobility
and gentry to acknowledge Henry as their supreme head, in matters
both spiritual and temporal; but had met with a most violent opposition,
especially from George, archbishop of Armagh; that this prelate
had, in a speech to his clergy, laid a curse on all those who
should own his highness' supremacy: adding, that their isle, called
in the Chronicles Insula Sacra, or the Holy Island, belonged to
none but the bishop of Rome, and that the king's progenitors had
received it from the pope. He observed likewise, that the archbishop
and clergy of Armagh had each despatched a courier to Rome; and
that it would be necessary for a parliament to be called in Ireland,
to pass an act of supremacy, the people not regarding the king's
commission without the sanction of the legislative assembly. He
concluded with observing, that the popes had kept the people in
the most profound ignorance; that the clergy were exceedingly
illiterate; that the common people were more zealous in their
blindness than the saints and martyrs had been in the defence
of truth at the beginning of the Gospel; and that it was to be
feared that Shan O'Neal, a chieftain of great power in the northern
part of the island, was decidedly opposed to the king's commission.
In pursuance of this advice, the following year a parliament was
summoned to meet at Dublin, by order of Leonard Grey, at that
time lord-lieutenant. At this assembly Archbishop Browne made
a speech, in which he set forth that the bishops of Rome used,
anciently, to acknowledge emperors, kings, and princes, to be
supreme in their own dominions; and, therefore, that he himself
would vote King Henry VIII as supreme in all matters, both ecclesiastical
and temporal. He concluded with saying that whosoever should refuse
to vote for this act, was not a true subject of the king. This
speech greatly startled the other bishops and lords; but at length,
after violent debates, the king's supremacy was allowed.
Two years after this, the archbishop wrote a second letter to
Lord Cromwell, complaining of the clergy, and hinting at the machinations
which the pope was then carrying on against the advocates of the
Gospel. This letter is dated from Dublin, in April, 1538; and
among other matters, the archbishop says, "A bird may be
taught to speak with as much sense as many of the clergy do in
this cvountry. These, though not scholars, yet are crafty to cozen
the oor common people and to dissuade them from following his
highness orders. The country folk here much hate your lordship,
and despitefully call you, in their Irish tongue, the Blacksmith's
Son. As a friend, I desire your lordship to look well to your
noble person. Rome hath a great kindness for the duke of Norfolk,
and great favors for this nation, purposely to oppose his highness."
A short time after this, the pope sent over to Ireland (directed
to the archbishop of Armagh and his clergy) a bull of excommunication
against all who had, or should own the king's supremacy within
the Irish nation; denouncing a curse on all of them, and theirs,
who should not, within forty days, acknowledge to their confessors,
that they had done amiss in so doing.
Archbishop Browne gave notice of this in a letter dated, Dublin,
May, 1538. Part of the form of confession, or vow, sent over to
these Irish papists, ran as follows: "I do further declare
him or here, father or mother, brother or sister, son or daughter,
husband or wife, uncle or aunt, nephew or niece, kinsman or kinswoman,
master or mistress, and all others, nearest or dearest relations,
friend or acquaintance whatsoever, accursed, that either do or
shall hold, for the time to come, any ecclesiastical or civil
power above the authority of the Mother Church; or that do or
shall obey, for the time to come, any of her, the Mother of Churches'
opposers or enemies, or contrary to the same, of which I have
here sworn unto: so God, the Blessed Virgin, St. Peter, St. Paul,
and the Holy Evangelists, help me," etc. is an exact agreement
with the doctrines promulgated by the Councils of Lateran and
Constance, which expressly declare that no favor should be shown
to heretics, nor faith kept with them; that they ought to be excommunicated
and condemned, and their estates confiscated, and that princes
are obliged, by a solemn oath, to root them out of their respective
How abominable a church must that be, which thus dares to trample
upon all authority! How besotted the people who regard the injunctions
of such a church!
In the archbishop's last-mentioned letter, dated May, 1538, he
says: "His highness' viceroy of this nation is of little
or no power with the old natives. Now both English and Irish begin
to oppose your lordship's orders, and to lay aside their national
quarrels, which I fear will (if anything will) cause a foreigner
to invade this nation."
Not long after this, Archbishop Browne seized one Thady O'Brian,
a Franciscan friar, who had in his possession a paper sent from
Rome, dated May, 1538, and directed to O'Neal. In this letter
were the following words: "His Holiness, Paul, now pope,
and the council of the fathers, have lately found, in Rome, a
prophecy of one St. Lacerianus, an Irish bishop of Cashel, in
which he saith that the Mother Church of Rome falleth, when, in
Ireland, the Catholic faith is overcome. Therefore, for the glory
of the Mother Church, the honor of St. Peter, and your own secureness,
suppress heresy, and his holiness' enemies."
This Thady O'Brian, after further examination and search made,
was pilloried, and kept close prisoner until the king's orders
arrived in what manner he should be further dispposed of. But
order coming over from England that he was to be hanged, he laid
violent hands on himself in the castle of Dublin. His body was
afterwards carried to Gallows-green, where, after being hanged
up for some time, it was interred.
After the accession of Edward VI to the throne of England, an
order was directed to Sir Anthony Leger, the lord-deputy of Ireland,
commanding that the liturgy in English be forthwith set up in
Ireland, there to be observed within the several bishoprics, cathedrals,
and parish churches; and it was first read in Christ-church, Dublin,
on Easter day, 1551, before the said Sir Anthony, Archbishop Browne,
and others. Part of the royal order for this purpose was as follows:
"Whereas, our gracious father, King Henry VIII taking into
consideration the bondage and heavy yoke that his true and faithful
subjects sustained, under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome;
how several fabulous stories and lying wonders misled our subjects;
dispensing with the sins of our nations, by their indulgences
and pardons, for gain; purposely to cherish all evil vices, as
robberies, rebellions, thefts, whoredoms, blasphemy, idolatry,
etc., our gracious father hereupon dissolved all priories, monasteries,
abbeys, and other pretended religious houses; as being but nurseries
for vice or luxury, more than for sacred learning," etc.
On the day after the Common Prayer was first used in Christchurch,
Dublin, the following wicked scheme was projected by the papists:
In the church was left a marble image of Christ, holding a reed
in his hand, with a crown of thorns on his head. Whilst the English
service (the Common Prayer) was being read before the lord-lieutenant,
the archbishop of Dublin, the privy-council, the lord-mayor, and
a great congregation, blood was seen to run through the crevices
of the crown of thorns, and trickle down the face of the image.
On this, some of the contrivers of the imposture cried aloud,
"See how our Savior's image sweats blood! But it must necessarily
do this, since heresy is come into the church." Immediately
many of the lower order of people, indeed the vulgar of all ranks,
were terrified at the sight of so miraculous and undeniable an
evidence of the divine displeasure; they hastened from the church,
convinced that the doctrines of Protestantism emanated from an
infernal source, and that salvation was only to be found in the
bosom of their own infallible Church.
This incident, however ludicrous it may appear to the enlightened
reader, had great influence over the minds of the ignorant Irish,
and answered the ends of the impudent impostors who contrived
it, so far as to check the progress of the reformed religion in
Ireland very materially; many persons could not resist the conviction
that there were many errors and corruptions in the Romish Church,
but they were awed into silence by this pretended manifestation
of Divine wrath, which was magnified beyond measure by the bigoted
and interested priesthood.
We have very few particulars as to the state of religion in Ireland
during the remaining portion of the reign of Edward VI and the
greater part of that of Mary. Towards the conclusion of the barbarous
sway of that relentless bigot, she attempted to extend her inhuman
persecutions to this island; but her diabolical intentions were
happily frustrated in the following providential manner, the particulars
of which are related by historians of good authority.
Mary had appointed Dr. Pole (an agent of the bloodthirsty Bonner)
one of the commissioners for carrying her barbarous intentions
into effect. He having arrived at Chester with his commission,
the mayor of that city, being a papist, waited upon him; when
the doctor taking out of his cloak bag a leathern case, said to
him, "Here is a commission that shall lash the heretics of
Ireland." The good woman of the house being a Protestant,
and having a brother in Dublin, named John Edmunds, was greatly
troubled at what she heard. But watching her opportunity, whilst
the mayor was taking his leave, and the doctor politely accompanying
him downstairs, she opened the box, took out the commission, and
in its stead laid a sheet of paper, with a pack of cards, and
the knave of clubs at top. The doctor, not suspecting the trick
that had been played him, put up the box, and arrived with it
in Dublin, in September, 1558.
Anxious to accomplish the intentions of his "pious"
mistress, he immediately waited upon Lord Fitz-Walter, at that
time viceroy, and presented the box to him; which being opened,
nothing was found in it but a pack of cards. This startling all
the persons present, his lordship said, "We must procure
another commission; and in the meantime let us shuffle the cards."
Dr. Pole, however, would have directly returned to England to
get another commission; but waiting for a favorable wind, news
arrived that Queen Mary was dead, and by this means the Protestants
escaped a most cruel persecution. The above relation as we before
observed, is confirmed by historians of the greatest credit, who
add, that Queen Elizabeth settled a pension of forty pounds per
annum upon the above mentioned Elizabeth Edmunds, for having thus
saved the lives of her Protestant subjects.
During the reigns of Elizabeth and James I, Ireland was almost
constantly agitated by rebellions and insurrections, which, although
not always taking their rise from the difference of religious
opinions, between the English and Irish, were aggravated and rendered
more bitter and irreconcilable from that cause. The popish priests
artfully exaggerated the faults of the English government, and
continually urged to their ignorant and prejudiced hearers the
lawfulness of killing the Protestants, assuring them that all
Catholics who were slain in the prosecution of so pious an enterprise,
would be immediately received into everlasting felicity. The naturally
ungovernable dispositions of the Irish, acted upon by these designing
men, drove them into continual acts of barbarous and unjustifiable
violence; and it must be confessed that the unsettled and arbitrary
nature of the authority exercised by the English governors, was
but little calculated to gain their affections. The Spaniards,
too, by landing forces in the south, and giving every encouragement
to the discontented natives to join their standard, kept the island
in a continual state of turbulence and warfare. In 1601, they
disembarked a body of four thousand men at Kinsale, and commenced
what they called "the Holy War for the preservation of the
faith in Ireland;" they were assisted by great numbers of
the Irish, but were at length totally defeated by the deputy,
Lord Mountjoy, and his officers.
This closed the transactions of Elizabeth's reign with respect
to Ireland; an interval of apparent tranquillity followed, but
the popish priesthood, ever restless and designing, sought to
undermine by secret machinations that government and that faith
which they durst no longer openly attack. The pacific reign of
James afforded them the opportunity of increasing their strength
and maturing their schemes, and under his successor, Charles I,
their numbers were greatly increased by titular Romish archbishops,
bishops, deans, vicars-general, abbots, priests, and friars; for
which reason, in 1629, the public exercise of the popish rites
and ceremonies was forbidden.
But notwithstanding this, soon afterwards, the Romish clergy erected
a new popish university in the city of Dublin. They also proceeded
to build monasteries and nunneries in various parts of the kingdom;
in which places these very Romish clergy, and the chiefs of the
Irish, held frequent meetings; and from thence, used to pass to
and fro, to France, Spain, Flanders, Lorraine, and Rome; where
the detestable plot of 1641 was hatching by the family of the
O'Neals and their followers.
A short time before the horrid conspiracy broke out, which we
are now going to relate, the papists in Ireland had presented
a remonstrance to the lords-justice of that kingdom, demanding
the free exercise of their religion, and a repeal of all laws
to the contrary; to which both houses of parliament in England
solemnly answered that they would never grant any toleration to
the popish religion in that kingdom.
This further irritated the papists to put in execution the diabolical
plot concerted for the destruction of the Protestants; and it
failed not of the success wished for by its malicious and rancorous
The design of this horrid conspiracy was that a general insurrection
should take place at the same time throughout the kingdom, and
that all the Protestants, without exception, should be murdered.
The day fixed for this horrid massacre, was the twenty-third of
October, 1641, the feast of Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits;
and the chief conspirators in the principal parts of the kingdom
made the necessary preparations for the intended conflict.
In order that this detested scheme might the more infallibly succeed,
the most distinguished artifices were practiced by the papists;
and their behavior in their visits to the Protestants, at this
time, was with more seeming kindness than they had hitherto shown,
which was done the more completely to effect the inhuman and treacherous
designs then meditating against them.
The execution of this savage conspiracy was delayed until the
approach of winter, that sending troops from England might be
attended with greater difficulty. Cardinal Richelieu, the French
minister, had promised the conspirators a considerable supply
of men and money; and many Irish officers had given the strongest
assurances that they would heartily concur with their Catholic
brethren, as soon as the insurrection took place.
The day preceding that appointed for carrying this horrid design
into execution was now arrived, when, happily, for the metropolis
of the kingdom, the conspiracy was discovered by one Owen O'Connelly,
an Irishman, for which most signal service the English Parliament
voted him 500 pounds and a pension of 200 pounds during his life.
So very seasonably was this plot discovered, even but a few hours
before the city and castle of Dublin were to have been surprised,
that the lords-justice had but just time to put themselves, and
the city, in a proper posture of defence. Lord M'Guire, who was
the principal leader here, with his accomplices, was seized the
same evening in the city; and in their lodgings were found swords,
hatchets, pole-axes, hammers, and such other instruments of death
as had been prepared for the destruction and extirpation of the
Protestants in that part of the kingdom.
Thus was the metropolic happily preserved; but the bloody part
of the intended tragedy was past prevention. The conspirators
were in arms all over the kingdom early in the morning of the
day appointed, and every Protestant who fell in their way was
immediately murdered. No age, no sex, no condition, was spared.
The wife weeping for her butchered husband, and embracing her
helpless children, was pierced with them, and perished by the
same stroke. The old, the young, the vigorous, and the infirm,
underwent the same fate, and were blended in one common ruin.
In vain did flight save from the first assault, destruction was
everywhere let loose, and met the hunted victims at every turn.
In vain was recourse had to relations, to companions, to friends;
all connections were dissolved; and death was dealt by that hand
from which protection was implored and expected. Without provocation,
without opposition, the astonished English, living in profound
peace, and, as they thought, full security, were massacred by
their nearest neighbors, with whom they had long maintained a
continued intercourse of kindness and good offices. Nay, even
death was the slightest punishment inflicted by these monsters
in human form; all the tortures which wanton cruelty could invent,
all the lingering pains of body, the anguish of mind, the agonies
of despair, could not satiate revenge excited without injury,
and cruelly derived from no just cause whatever. Depraved nature,
even perverted religion, though encouraged by the utmost license,
cannot reach to a greater pitch of ferocity than appeared in these
merciless barbarians. Even the weaker sex themselves, naturally
tender to their own sufferings, and compassionate to those of
others, have emulated their robust companions in the practice
of every cruelty. The very children, taught by example and encouraged
by the exhortation of their parents, dealt their feeble blows
on the dead carcasses of the defenceless children of the English.
Nor was the avarice of the Irish sufficient to produce the least
restraint on their cruelty. Such was their frenzy, that the cattle
they had seized, and by repine had made their own, were, because
they bore the name of English, wontonly slaughtered, or, when
covered with wounds, turned loose into the woods, there to perish
by slow and lingering torments.
The commodious habitations of the planters were laid in ashes,
or levelled with the ground. And where the wretched owners had
shut themselves up in the houses, and were preparing for defence,
they perished in the flames together with their wives and children.
Such is the general description of this unparalleled massacre;
but it now remains, from the nature of our work, that we proceed
The bigoted and merciless papists had no sooner begun to imbrue
their hands in blood than they repeated the horrid tragedy day
after day, and the Protestants in all parts of the kingdom fell
victims to their fury by deaths of the most unheard-of cruelty.
The ignorant Irish were more strongly instigated to execute the
infernal business by the Jesuits, priests, and friars, who, when
the day for the execution of the plot was agreed on, recommended
in their prayers, diligence in the great design, which they said
would greatly tend to the prosperity of the kingdom, and to the
advancement of the Catholic cause. They everywhere declared to
the common people, that the Protestants were heretics, and ought
not to be suffered to live any longer among them; adding that
it was no more sin to kill an Englishman than to kill a dog; and
that the relieving or protecting them was a crime of the most
The papists having besieged the town and castle of Longford, and
the inhabitants of the latter, who were Protestants, surrendering
on condition of being allowed quarter, the besiegers, the instant
the townspeople appeared, attacked them in a most unmerciful manner,
their priest, as a signal for the rest to fall on, first ripping
open the belly of the English Protestant minister; after which
his followers murdered all the rest, some of whom they hanged,
others were stabbed or shot, and great numbers knocked on the
head with axes provided for the purpose.
The garrison at Sligo was treated in like manner by O'Connor Slygah;
who, upon the Protestants quitting their holds, promised them
quarter, and to convey them safe over the Curlew mountains, to
Roscommon. But he first imprisoned them in a most loathsome jail,
allowing them only grains for their food. Afterward, when some
papists were merry over their cups, who were come to congratulate
their wicked brethren for their victory over these unhappy creatures,
those Protestants who survived were brought forth by the White-firars,
and were either killed, or precipitated over the bridge into a
swift river, where they were soon destroyed. It is added, that
this wicked company of White-friars went, some time after, in
solemn procession, with holy water in their hands, to sprinkle
the river; on pretence of cleansing and purifying it from the
stains and pollution of the blood and dead bodies of the heretics,
as they called the unfortunate Protestants who were inhumanly
slaughtered at this very time.
At Kilmore, Dr. Bedell, bishop of that see, had charitably settled
and supported a great number of distressed Protestants, who had
fled from their habitations to escape the diabolical cruelties
committed by the papists. But they did not long enjoy the consolation
of living together; the good prelate was forcibly dragged from
his episcopal residence, which was immediately occupied by Dr.
Swiney, the popish titular bishop of Kilmore, who said Mass in
the church the Sunday following, and then seized on all the goods
and effects belonging to the persecuted bishop.
Soon after this, the papists forced Dr. Bedell, his two sons,
and the rest of his family, with some of the chief of the Protestants
whom he had protected, into a ruinous castle, called Lochwater,
situated in a lake near the sea. Here he remained with his companions
some weeks, all of them daily expecting to be put to death. The
greatest part of them were stripped naked, by which means, as
the season was cold, (it being in the month of December) and the
building in which they were confined open at the top, they suffered
the most severe hardships. They continued in this situation until
the seventh of January, when they were all released. The bishop
was courteously received into the house of Dennis O'Sheridan,
one of his clergy, whom he had made a convert to the Church of
England; but he did not long survive this kindness. During his
residence here, he spent the whole of his time in religious exercises,
the better to fit and prepare himself and his sorrowful companions
for their great change, as nothing but certain death was perpetually
before their eyes. He was at this time in the seventy-first year
of his age, and being afflicted with a violent ague caught in
his late cold and desolate habitation on the lake, it soon threw
him into a fever of the most dangerous nature. Finding his dissolution
at hand, he received it with joy, like one of the primitive martyrs
just hastening to his crown of glory. After having addressed his
little flock, and exhorted them to patience, in the most pathetic
manner, as they saw their own last day approaching, after having
solemnly blessed his people, his family, and his children, he
finished the course of his ministry and life together, on the
seventh day of February 1642.
His friends and relations applied to the intruding bishop for
leave to bury him, which was with difficulty obtained; he, at
first telling them that the churchyard was holy ground, and should
be no longer defiled with heretics: however, leave was at last
granted, and though the church funeral service was not used at
the solemnity, (for fear of the Irish papists) yet some of the
better sort, who had the highest veneration for him while living,
attended his remains to the grave. At this interment they discharged
a volley of shot, crying out, Requiescat in pace ultimus Anglorum,
that is, "May the last of the English rest in peace."
Adding, that as he was one of the best so he should be the last
English bishop found among them. His learning was very extensive;
and he would have given the world a greater proof of it, had he
printed all he wrote. Scarce any of his writings were saved; the
papists having destroyed most of his papers and his library. He
had gathered a vast heap of critical expositions of Scripture,
all which with a great trunk full of his manuscripts, fell into
the hands of the Irish. Happily his great Hebrew manuscript was
preserved, and is now in the library of Emanuel College, Oxford.
In the barony of Terawley, the papists, at the instigation of
the friars, compelled above forty English Protestants, some of
whom were women and children, to the hard fate of either falling
by the sword, or of drowning in the sea. These choosing the latter,
were accordingly forced, by the naked weapons of their inexorable
persecutors, into the deep, where, with their children in their
arms, they first waded up to their chins, and afterwards sunk
down and perished together.
In the castle of Lisgool upwards of one hundred and fifty men,
women, and children, were all burnt together; and at the castle
of Moneah not less than one hundred were all pput to the sword.
Great numbers were also murdered at the castle of Tullah, which
was delivered up to M'Guire on condition of having fair quarter;
but no sooner had that base villain got possession of the place
than he ordered his followers to murder the people, which was
immeidately done with the greatest cruelty.
Many others were put to deaths of the most horrid nature, and
such as could have been invented only by demons instead of men.
Some of them were laid with the center of their backs on the axle-tree
of a carriage, with their legs resting on the ground on one side,
and their arms and head on the other. In this position, one of
the savages scourged the wretched object on the thighs, legs,
etc., while another set on furious dogs, who tore to pieces the
arms and upper parts of the body; and in this dreadful manner
were they deprived of their existence. Great numbers were fastened
to horses' tails, and the beasts being set on full gallop by their
riders, the wretched victims were dragged along until they expired.
Others were hung on lofty gibbets, and a fire being kindled under
them, they finished their lives, partly by hanging, and partly
Nor did the more tender sex escape the least particle of cruelty
that could be projected by their merciless and furious persecutors.
Many women, of all ages, were put to deaths of the most cruel
nature. Some, in particular, were fastened with their backs to
strong posts, and being stripped to their waists, the inhuman
monsters cut off their right breasts with shears, which, of course,
put them to the most excruciating torments; and in this position
they were left, until, from the loss of blood, they expired.
Such was the savage ferocity of these barbarians, that even unborn
infants were dragged from the womb to become victims to their
rage. Many unhappy mothers were hung naked in the branches of
trees, and their bodies being cut open, the innocent offsprings
were taken from them, and thrown to dogs and swine. And to increase
the horrid scene, they would oblige the husband to be a spectator
before suffering himself.
At the town of Issenskeath they hanged above a hundred Scottish
Protestants, showing them no more mercy than they did to the English.
M'Guire, going to the castle of that town, desired to speak with
the governor, when being admitted, he immediately burnt the records
of the county, which were kept there. He then demanded 1000 pounds
of the governor, which, having received, he immediately compelled
him to hear Mass. and to swear that he would continue to do so.
And to complete his horrid barbarities, he ordered the wife and
children of the governor to be hanged before his face; besides
massacring at least one hundred of the inhabitants. Upwards of
one thousand men, women, and children, were driven, in different
companies, to Portadown bridge, which was broken in the middle,
and there compelled to throw themselves into the water, and such
as attempted to reach the shore were knocked on the head.
In the same part of the country, at least four thousand persons
were drowned in different places. The inhuman papists, after first
stripping them, drove them like beasts to the spot fixed on for
their destruction; and if any, through fatigue, or natural infirmities,
were slack in their pace, they pricked them with their swords
and pikes; and to strike terror on the multitude, they murdered
some by the way. Many of these poor wretches, when thrown into
the water, endeavored to save themselves by swimming to the shore
but their merciless persecutors prevented their endeavors taking
effect, by shooting them in the water.
In one place one hundred and forty English, after being driven
for many miles stark naked, and in the most severe weather, were
all murdered on the same spot, some being hanged, others burnt,
some shot, and many of them buried alive; and so cruel were their
tormentors that they would not suffer them to pray before they
robbed them of their miserable existence.
Other companies they took under pretence of safe conduct, who,
from that consideration, proceeded cheerfully on their journey;
but when the treacherous papists had got them to a convenient
spot, they butchered them all in the most cruel manner.
One hundred and fifteen men, women, and children, were conducted,
by order of Sir Phelim O'Neal, to Portadown bridge, where they
were all forced into the river, and drowned. One woman, named
Campbell, finding no probability of escaping, suddenly clasped
one of the chief of the papists in her arms, and held him so fast
that they were both drowned together.
In Killyman they massacred forty-eight families, among whom twenty-two
were burnt together in one house. The rest were either hanged,
shot, or drowned.
In Kilmore, the inhabitants, which consisted of about two hundred
families, all fell victims to their rage. Some of them sat in
the stocks until they confessed where their money was; after which
they put them to death. The whole county was one common scene
of butchery, and many thousands perished, in a short time, by
sword, famine, fire, water, and others the most cruel deaths,
that rage and malice could invent.
These bloody villains showed so much favor to some as to despatch
them immediately; but they would by no means suffer them to pray.
Others they imprisoned in filthy dungeons, putting heavy bolts
on their legs, and keeping them there until they were starved
At Casel they put all the Protestants into a loathsome dungeon,
where they kept them together, for several weeks, in the greatest
misery. At length they were released, when some of them were barbarously
mangled, and left on the highways to perish at leisure; others
were hanged, and some were buried in the ground upright, with
their heads above the earth, and the papists, to increase their
misery, treating them with derision during their sufferings. In
the county of Antrim they murdered nine hundred and fifty-four
Protestants in one morning; and afterwards about twelve hundred
more in that county.
At a town called Lisnegary, they forced twenty-four Protestants
into a house, and then setting fire to it, burned them together,
counterfeiting their outcries in derision to the others.
Among other acts of cruelty they took two children belonging to
an Englishwoman, and dashed out their brains before her face;
after which they threw the mother into a river, and she was drowned.
They served many other children in the like manner, to the great
affliction of their parents, and the disgrace of human nature.
In Kilkenny all the Protestants, without exception, were put to
death; and some of them in so cruel a manner, as, perhaps, was
never before thought of.
They beat an Englishwoman with such savage barbarity, that she
had scarce a whole bone left; after which they threw her into
a ditch; but not satisfied with this, they took her child, a girl
about six years of age, and after ripping up its belly, threw
it to its mother, there to languish until it perished. They forced
one man to go to Mass, after which they ripped open his body,
and in that manner left him. They sawed another asunder, cut the
throat of his wife, and after having dashed out the brains of
their child, an infant, threw it to the swine, who greedily devoured
After committing these, and several other horrid cruelties, they
took the heads of seven Protestants, and among them that of a
pious minister, all of which they fixed up at the market cross.
They put a gag into the minister's mouth, then slit his cheeks
to his ears, and laying a leaf of a Bible before it, bid him preach,
for his mouth was wide enough. They did several other things by
way of derision, and expressed the greatest satisfaction at having
thus murdered and exposed the unhappy Protestants.
It is impossible to conceive the pleasure these monsters took
in excercising their cruelty, and to increase the misery of those
who fell into their hands, when they butchered them they would
say, "Your soul to the devil." One of these miscreants
would come into a house with his hands imbued in blood, and boast
that it was English blood, and that his sword had pricked the
white skins of the Protestants, even to the hilt. When any one
of them had killed a Protestant, others would come and receive
a gratification in cutting and mangling the body; after which
they left it exposed to be devoured by dogs; and when they had
slain a number of them they would boast, that the devil was beholden
to them for sending so many souls to hell. But it is no wonder
they should thus treat the innocent Christians, when they hesitated
not to commit blasphemy against God and His most holy Word.
In one place they burnt two Protestant Bibles, and then said they
had burnt hell-fire. In the church at Powerscourt they burnt the
pulpit, pews, chests, and Bibles belonging to it. They took other
Bibles, and after wetting them with dirty water, dashed them in
the faces of the Protestants, saying, "We know you love a
good lesson; here is an excellent one for you; come to-morrow,
and you shall have as good a sermon as this."
Some of the Protestants they dragged by the hair of their heads
into the church, where they stripped and whipped them in the most
cruel manner, telling them, at the same time, that if they came
tomorrow, they should hear the like sermon.
In Munster they put to death several ministers in the most shocking
manner. One, in particular, they stripped stark naked, and driving
him before them, pricked him with swords and darts until he fell
down, and expired.
In some places they plucked out the eyes, and cut off the hands
of the Protestants, and in that manner turned them into the fields,
there to wander out their miserable existence. They obliged many
young men to force their aged parents to a river, where they were
drowned; wives to assist in hanging their husbands; and mothers
to cut the throats of their children.
In one place they compelled a young man to kill his father, and
then immediately hanged him. In another they forced a woman to
kill her husband, then obliged the son to kill her, and afterward
shot him through the head.
At a place called Glaslow, a popish priest, with some others,
prevailed on forty Protestants to be reconciled to the Church
of Rome. They had no sooner done this than they told them they
were in good faith, and that they would prevent their falling
from it, and turning heretics, by sending them out of the world,
which they did by immediately cutting their throats.
In the county of Tipperary upwards of thirty Protestants, men,
women, and children, fell into the hands of the papists, who,
after stripping them naked, murdered them with stones, pole-axes,
swords, and other weapons.
In the county of Mayo about sixty Protestants, fifteen of whom
were ministers, were, upon covenant, to be safely conducted to
Galway, by one Edmund Burke and his soldiers; but that inhuman
monster by the way drew his sword, as an intimation of his design
to the rest, who immediately followed his example, and murdered
the whole, some of whom they stabbed, others were run through
the body with pikes, and several were drowned.
In Queen's County great numbers of Protestants were put to the
most shocking deaths. Fifty or sixty were placed together in one
house, which being set on fire, they all perished in the flames.
Many were stripped naked, and being fastened to horses by ropes
placed round their middles, were dragged through bogs until they
expired. Some were hung by the feet to tenterhooks driven into
poles; and in that wretched posture left until they perished.
Others were fastened to the trunk of a tree, with a branch at
top. Over this branch hung one arm, which principally supported
the weight of the body; and one of the legs was turned up, and
fastened to the trunk, while the other hung straight. In this
dreadful and uneasy posture did they remain as long as life would
permit, pleasing spectacles to their bloodthirsty persecutors.
At Clownes seventeen men were buried alive; and an Englishman,
his wife, five children, and a servant maid, were all hanged together,
and afterward thrown into a ditch. They hung many by the arms
to branches of trees, with a weight to their feet; and others
by the middle, in which posture they left them until they expired.
Several were hanged on windmills, and before they were half dead,
the barbarians cut them in pieces with their swords. Others, both
men, women, and children, they cut and hacked in various parts
of their bodies, and left them wallowing in their blood to perish
where they fell. One poor woman they hanged on a gibbet, with
her child, an infant about a twelve-month old, the latter of whom
was hanged by the neck with the hair of its mother's head, and
in that manner finished its short but miserable existence.
In the county of Tyrone no less than three hundred Protestants
were drowned in one day; and many others were hanged, burned,
and otherwise put to death. Dr. Maxwell, rector of Tyrone, lived
at this time near Armagh, and suffered greatly from these merciless
savages. This person, in his examination, taken upon oath before
the king's commissioners, declared that the Irish papists owned
to him, that they, at several times, had destroyed, in one place,
12,000 Protestants, whom they inhumanly slaughtered at Glynwood,
in their flight from the county of Armagh.
As the river Bann was not fordable, and the bridge broken down,
the Irish forced thither at different times, a great number of
unarmed, defenceless Protestants, and with pikes and swords violently
thrust about one thousand into the river, where they miserably
Nor did the cathedral of Armagh escape the fury of those barbarians,
it being maliciously set on fire by their leaders, and burnt to
the ground. And to extirpate, if possible, the very race of those
unhappy Protestants, who lived in or near Armagh, the Irish first
burnt all their houses, and then gathered together many hundreds
of those innocent people, young and old, on pretence of allowing
them a guard and safe conduct to Colerain, when they treacherously
fell on them by the way, and inhumanly murdered them.
The like horrid barbarities with those we have particularized,
were practiced on the wretched Protestants in almost all parts
of the kingdom; and, when an estimate was afterward made of the
number who were sacrificed to gratify diabolical souls of the
papists, it amounted to one hundred and fifty thousand. But it
now remains that we proceed to the particulars that followed.
These desperate wretches, flushed and grown insolent with success,
(though by methods attended with such excessive barbarities as
perhaps not to be equalled) soon got possession of the castle
of Newry, where the king's stores and ammunition were lodged;
and, with as little difficulty, made themselves masters of Dundalk.
They afterward took the town of Ardee, where they murdered all
the Protestants, and then proceeded to Drogheda. The garrison
of Drogheda was in no condition to sustain a siege, notwithstanding
which, as often as the Irish renewed their attacks they were vigorously
repulsed by a very unequal number of the king's forces, and a
few faithful Protestant citizens under Sir Henry Tichborne, the
governor, assisted by the Lord Viscount Moore. The siege of Drogheda
began on the thirtieth of November, 1641, and held until the fourth
of March, 1642, when Sir Phelim O'Neal, and the Irish miscreants
under him were forced to retire.
In the meantime ten thousand troops were sent from Scotland to
the remaining Protestants in Ireland, which being properly divided
in the most capital parts of the kingdom, happily exclipsed the
power of the Irish savages; and the Protestants for a time lived
In the reign of King James II they were again interrupted, for
in a parliament held at Dublin in the year 1689, great numbers
of the Protestant nobility, clergy, and gentry of Ireland, were
attainted of high treason. The government of the kingdom was,
at that time, invested in the earl of Tyrconnel, a bigoted papist,
and an inveterate enemy to the Protestants. By his orders they
were again persecuted in various parts of the kingdom. The revenues
of the city of Dublin were seized, and most of the churches converted
into prisons. And had it not been for the resolution and uncommon
bravery of the garrisons in the city of Londonderry, and the town
of Inniskillin, there had not one place remained for refuge to
the distressed Protestants in the whole kingdom; but all must
have been given up to King James, and to the furious popish party
that governed him.
The remarkable siege of Londonderry was opened on the eighteenth
of April, 1689, by twenty thousand papists, the flower of the
Irish army. The city was not properly circumstanced to sustain
a siege, the defenders consisting of a body of raw undisciplined
Protestants, who had fled thither for shelter, and half a regiment
of Lord Mountjoy's disciplined soldiers, with the principal part
of the inhabitants, making it all only seven thousand three hundred
and sixty-one fighting men.
The besieged hoped, at first, that their stores of corn and other
necessaries, would be sufficient; but by the continuance of the
siege their wants increased; and these became at last so heavy
that for a considerable time before the siege was raised a pint
of coarse barley, a small quantity of greens, a few spoonfuls
of starch, with a very moderate proportion of horse flesh, were
reckoned a week's provision for a soldier. And they were, at length,
reduced to such extremities that they ate dogs, cats, and mice.
Their miseries increasing with the siege, many, through mere hunger
and want, pined and languished away, or fell dead in the streets.
And it is remarkable, that when their long-expected succors arrived
from England, they were upon the point of being reduced to this
alternative, either to preserve their existence by eating each
other, or attempting to fight their way through the Irish, which
must have infallibly produced their destruction.
These succors were most happily brought by the ship Mountjoy of
Derry, and the Phoenix of Colerain, at which time they had only
nine lean horses left with a pint of meal to each man. By hunger,
and the fatigues of war, their seven thousand three hundred and
sixty-one fighting men were reduced to four thousand three hundred,
one fourth part of whom were rendered unserviceable.
As the calamities of the besieged were great, so likewise were
the terrors and sufferings of their Protestant friends and relations;
all of whom (even women and children) were forcibly driven from
the country thirty miles round, and inhumanly reduced to the sad
necessity of continuing some days and nights without food or covering,
before the walls of the town; and were thus exposed to the continual
fire both of the Irish army from without and the shot of their
friends from within.
But the succors from England happily arriving put an end to their
affliction; and the siege was raised on the thirty-first of July,
having been continued upwards of three months.
The day before the siege of Londonderry was raised the Inniskillers
engaged a body of six thousand Irish Roman Catholics, at Newton,
Butler, or Crown-Castle, of whom near five thousand were slain.
This, with the defeat at Londonderry, dispirited the papists,
and they gave up all farther attempts to persecute the Protestants.
The year following, viz. 1690, the Irish took up arms in favor
of the abdicated prince, King James II but they were totally defeated
by his successor King William the Third. That monarch, before
he left the country, reduced them to a state of subjection, in
which they have ever since continued.
But notwithstanding all this, the Protestant interest at present
stands upon a much stronger basis than it did a century ago. The
Irish, who formerly led an unsettled and roving life, in the woods,
bogs, and mountains, and lived on the depredation of their neighbors,
they who, in the morning seized the prey, and at night divided
the spoil, have, for many years past, become quiet and civilized.
They taste the sweets of English society, and the advantages of
civil government. They trade in our cities, and are employed in
our manufactories. They are received also into English families;
and treated with great humanity by the Protestants.