Hardiman's History of Galway

Chapter 5: From 1641 to the restoration of Charles II in 1660

Licentiousness of the soldiery

Chapter 5

From 1641 to the restoration of Charles II in 1660

Return to table of contents
Old map of Galway

Henceforth the most violent acts of oppression and injustice openly took place without any control. The king's arms and every other emblem of royalty were torn down; upwards of fifty of the Catholic clergy were shipped to the islands of Arran and Bophin, until they could be transported to the West Indies; and, being allowed but two pence a day each for their support, they were nearly famished. The churches and abbies were converted into stables for the dragoons, the chalices and sacred vessels used as drinking cups, and the old and valuable libraries of the clergy burnt or sold to the shops. The mayor and aldermen, though expressly protected by the articles, were repeatedly abused and dragged to prison, for daring to remonstrate with the licentious soldiery, who set no bounds to their brutality and violence [dd]

Unjust measures of the rulers in Dublin, contrary to the articles of surrender - The corporation new modelled

The inhabitants having repeatedly, but in vain, appealed to the governor against these atrocities, at length ventured to represent their grievances to the commissioners in Dublin:[ee] they received, however, such replies as shewed they were to expect no relief from that quarter. After several specious and evasive answers, to preserve the appearance of justice, orders of reference were made to the very persons complained of: they were finally informed that the articles of surrender, being still under consideration in England, could not be interfered with; and they were thus dismissed, to undergo even worse treatment than before for at all presuming to complain.

In the mean time the state was not inattentive to the security of the town. The east and west citadels were built, and several new works added to the east fortifications. It also appears that the very men who were hourly violating all the laws of religion and humanity, with their usual consistency of character, now considered it necessary to erect a meeting-house "for the service of GOD," the expenses of which they took care should be defrayed by applotment on the Catholic inhabitants. The question concerning the articles of surrender having been at length decided in England against them, contrary to the public faith, and to every law of nature and nations, the final destruction of the inhabitants was now determined upon. The first step taken was to extinguish the old corporation; and accordingly upon a petition from the English "Protestant inhabitants" of the town, an order was made by the council of state, on the 25th of October, 1654, that the mayor and other chief officers should be "English and Protestants," and in case the then mayor or other chief officers were "Irish Or Papists," that they should be removed. This order was immediately carried into execution; and Thomas Lynch Fitz-Ambrose, the mayor, John Blake, the recorder, and Richard Lynch and Anthony French Fitz-Peter, the sheriffs, were deposed; and, in their place, colonel Peter Stubbers, the governor, was appointed mayor, Robert Clarke recorder, and Paul Dodd and Marcus Lynch FitzThomas [ff] sheriffs. The English soldiers were next made free, and the old members of the corporation finally disfranchised.

The ancient inhabitants turned out of the town, and the houses destroyed

This measure was only the prelude to others more serious: it was next determined to banish all the native inhabitants out of the town, and to supply their place with an English colony. An order was accordingly made by the lord deputy and council, on the 23d of July, 1655, that all- persons who claimed or had any right to any houses or other real estate, within or contiguous to the town, being popish recusants, should remove themselves and their families thereout before the 1st of November then ensuing, being paid, pursuant to the articles their full value; and in case they should refuse or neglect to do so, the officers and soldiers were required to remove them. [gg] Before the time limited for compliance with this ordinance had expired, another was issued more immediate in its operation; for "the state taking into consideration the extraordinary strength of the town, and the great intercourse the inhabitants had for many ages with the dominions of the king of Spain, and conceiving it probable that the Spaniard might entertain more than common hopes from that circumstance, under colour of giving succour to the king of the Scots," (Charles II.) they accordingly, on the 30th of October, ordered, "that all the Irish and other popish inhabitants should be forthwith removed out of thr town, in order that accommodation should be provided for such English Protestants, whose integrity to the State would entitle them to be trusted in a place of such importance." This order was carried into effect by Coote, the lord president, with unrelenting severity.[hh] The wretched inhabitants, without distinction of rank or sex, except a few who were oppressed by sickness and years, were driven out of the town in the midst of winter, (which was, at the time, peculiarly severe,) and were forced to take shelter by the ditches and in poor cabins in the country, without fire or sufficient clothing, in consequence of which many fell victims to the uncommon inclemency of the season. Thus deprived of its inhabitants, who were succeeded only by soldiery, the town presented the appearance of a military camp, without either order or regularity, and soon fell to decay. The superb houses, which, in the language of the Annals, were fit "to lodge kings and princes," and are described as the best built and most splendidly furnished of any in the kingdom, were seized upon and occupied by the lowest of the populace, until they were completely ruined. The trifling trade which recently remained had now entirely ceased; and the town, thus circumstanced, resembled a rich bee-hive plundered of its treasures, while its industrious people lay smothered and destroyed.

Next: Plans of the government relative to Galway

Online edition of Hardiman's History of Galway, © 1995-2001 World Wide Web Marketing Ltd. This is still a work in progress.