Hardiman's History of Galway

Chapter 4: From 1484 to the commencement of the Irish Rebellion in 1641

Prisage of wine claimed; Orders of Henry VIII

Chapter 4

From 1484 to the commencement of the Irish Rebellion in 1641

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Old map of Galway

The importation of this article formed, from a very early period, the most considerable feature in the foreign commerce of the town; and our annals assert that more wine was, for a considerable period of time, annually imported into Galway than into all the other parts of the kingdom.[i] As the Ormond family was entitled, by a grant from King Edward III to the prisage of all wines brought into Ireland, viz. one tun out of every nine, and two out of every twenty, the loss to them, in consequence of its retention in Galway, was very considerable. The earl made the demand in the year 1526, and the town resisted payment. His lordship then made complaint, before the lords of the Star Chamber in England; agents attended on the part of the town; the question was solemnly debated; and, after mature deliberation, it was decreed, that "Inasmuch as the earl could not prove that either King Edward III under whose grant he claimed, or any other before the grant, or himself, or any of his ancestors, received any prise wines of any stranger or denizen, by any prerogative, custom or other law in the town of Galway, so the town and corporation should pay no prisage, custom or toll unto the King, or any other person, other than they have used to pay in times past."[k] This decision, which was so favorable to the town, caused great rejoicings amongst the inhabitants, but had a contrary effect on the people of Limerick, who, irritated at the success of their rivals, dispatched private information to Henry VIII, that Galway had degenerated into the manners and customs of the Irish, with whom they corresponded, and to whom they afforded every assistance. This new attempt to injure the town also failed; for the King, depending on its well-known fidelity, was satisfied, without further inquiry, by sending over certain instructions, dated 28th April, 1536, [l] that the inhabitants should use the English older, habit and language, hold no correspondence with the Irish, and particularly that they should desist from forestalling the markes of Limerick, an offence of which they were also accused. Such were the petty animosities which subsisted between these rival communities; until Limerick, in the end, owing to political causes, gained the ascendancy, which it holds to this day.

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