Hardiman's History of Galway

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

Plans of the government relative to Galway

Chapter 5

From 1641 to the restoration of Charles II in 1660

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Old map of Galway

The work of destruction being thus complete, the ruinous situation to which this unfortunate town was now reduced, at length forced itself on the attention of the governing party; and an expedient was soon devised, which it was supposed would remedy all that had been done. An act was passed in the parliament of England, on the 17th of September, 1656, "for the ascertaining and effectual setting out of lands and houses in Ireland, in consideration of losses sustained by Anthony Edwards and others, the well-affected inhabitants of the city of Gloucester," during the siege which that city sustained against the royal forces in 1642. The intentions of this act not being yet carried into execution, Henry Cromwell, the lord deputy, embraced this as a favourable opportunity for planting Galway with English settlers, to whom the forfeited lands and houses could be disposed to the amount of 10,000. being the compensation to be made to Gloucester. Having accordingly consulted the council in Dublin on the subject, he forwarded dispatches to England on the 7th of April, wherein, after stating that the public would suffer considerably, if some speedy and effectual course were not immediately taken for planting the town of Galway, he adds, "His highness hath too perfect an understanding of that place, as wee need not add much; howbeit we may be bold to say, that for the situation thereof, voisenage and commerce it hath with Spaine, the strayts, West Indies and other places, noe town or port in the three nations (London excepted) was more considerable, nor, in all probability, would more encourage trade abroad or manufactures at home, than this, if well improved. It is a town made very defensive both by art and nature, and consists of many noble buildings, uniform, and most of them of marble, which that country hath plenty of; yet by reason of the late horrid rebellion and generall waste then and since made by the impoverisht English inhabiting there, many of the houses are become very ruinous; and inasmuch as there appears more encouragement for this new plantation than formerly (for that no Irish are permitted to live in the citty, or within three miles thereof, the better to accomodate the inhabitants with conveniences, the place becomes better secured,) and merchants have more hopeful gain by trade, than when the interest of the towne was in the Irish and other Papists that lived there." It was then proposed that the town and lands about is, and other lands near Athlone, and at Ballinrobe, in Mayo, or such part as should be thought fit, should be sold to the corporation of Gloucester, by whom the town could be colonized; and he concluded by recapitulating the many advantages which would result from such an undertaking. The project was favorably received by Cromwell, and agreed to by the citizens of Gloucester, who sent over doctor Thomas Clarges, as their agent, to transact the business.

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