Hardiman's History of Galway

Chapter 6: From 1660 to the surrender of Galway to King William's forces, 1691

On the restoration of Charles II many of the new settlers disappear and the old natives and former inhabitants return.

Chapter 6

From 1660 to the surrender of Galway to King William's forces, 1691

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Old map of Galway

On the restoration of Charles II such of the new settlers in Galway as were distinguished for the violence of their principles, or their hatred of the royal cause, apprehending prosecution and punishment, suddenly disappeared, while as many of the old natives, as survived the past scenes of destruction, hailed with joy an event from which they expected, according to the king's repeated declarations, not only the termination, but also the reward, of their manifold sufferings, and particularly the restitution of their usurped privileges and estates. Accordingly, one of the acts of the king, after entering upon the exercise of his royal function, was an order to reinstate the ancient inhabitants of Galway in the possession of their properties and privileges, directed to the lords justices of Ireland, of the following tenor:

Charles R.

"Forasmuch as the ancient inhabitants, freemen and natives of our towne of Galway, in our kingdome of Ireland, have held that town for us against a siege of nine months, being encouraged and commanded thereunto by our several letters, and was the last towne of consequence, in that our kingdome, that held out for us against the usurped power: and whereas the said ancient inhabitants, freemen and natives, and our garrison there being reduced to necessity, have, at the rendition of the said towne, made quarter, and obtained articles of warre from the commander in chief of the army besieging the said towne; by which articles, bearing date the 5th of April, 1652, amongst other things, they were to enjoy their freedoms, privileges and immunities, and their respective interests, houses and estates, in such manner as is in the said articles are mentioned; upon consideration whereof, after full debate of that matter, at a committee of our privy councill, appointed for Irish affairs, wee thought it reasonable and just to allow and make good unto the said inhabitants, freemen and natives, the benefit of the said articles.- It is, therefore, our will and pleasure, and we do hereby order and require, that the said inhabitants, freemen and natives, and all other persons in the said articles comprised, shall have and henceforth enjoy all and singular the benefits, advantages, libertyes, freedomes, privileges and immunities and all and singular the houses, estates, lands, tenements and hereditaments within the said town of Gallway and libertyes thereof, and elsewhere, which were promised unto them in or by the said articles, as by the instrument thereof, perfected by you, Sir Charles Coote, earl of Mountrath, bearing date as aforesaid, unto which we refer you, shall appeare; and we do hereby require you to cause this our royall pleasure and commande to be duly executed as fully and as amply, for the advantage of the said inhabitants, freemen and natives, and others comprised, as the said articles and instruments aforesaid doth express, which you are there upon the place to peruse, examine and allowe, without other or future explanations or expositions there, as the same was concluded on the rendition of the said towne: and we are likewise pleased, and it is our will, order and commande, that the said inhabitants, treemen and natives, shall have and be allowed such furtller addition of grace as you shall find us engaged unto by our royal letters, or they can justly claime by the articles of peace concluded tllere in the yeare 1648: and in as much as we are informed, by the duke of Ormonde, that divers of the said inhabitants, freemen and natives, have in a more erninent manner than others, and in the worst of times, gyven teslymony of their loyalty and affection to us, we require you particularly to inform yourselves of the said persons, and to treate, use and esteeme them as persons in a more speciall manner meritting of us, and accordingly to countenance, favour and settle them in the same measure as we have provided for others by express names in our declaration. And it is our royall will and pieassure, and we require all persons concerned to give ready obedience to these our commandes and order, as they will answer the contrary at their perills. And, for the more speedy and effectuall execution thereof, it is our will and pleasure that you issue and give your effectuall orders unto our commissioners appointed for executing of our publique declaration and to all our commissioners, officers and ministers, who are or shall be employed or concearned in the restoring of persons restorable, to cause this our order to be put in speedy and due execution; alsoe that you give order to our barons of our court of Exchequer, attorney and solicitor-generall, and other officers there concerned, to cause all and every matters and things remaining in charge upon the houses and estates of any of the said persons, who are to be restored by virtue of this order, to be putt out of charge, without further charge, plea or suite, other than the ancient charge; and likewise that you command the trustees appointed for settling the securityes for arreares, before the 5th of June, 1649, and all persons deryving from them, to suffer the said inhabitants, freemen and natives, and other persons before mentioned, without interruption, to possess and enjoy their severall estates, whereunto they are to be restored as aforesaid, and the profits thereof, notwithstanding any disposall made or to be made by the said commissioners whatsoever; for all which, this shall be to you, and all persons concerned, a sufficient warrant.Given at our court, at Whitehall, the 17th day of June, in the thirteenth year of our reigne.

By his majesties command."

This gracious and equitable mark of the royal favor, however sincere and well intentioned the motives of the king might then have been, proved but of little use to those for whom it was intended. Party feelings ran so high in the nation, that their claims were drowned amidst the general clamour of discontent: but the inveterate prejudices of the men in power against their religious principles operated more powerfully against them than any other cause. The king's declaration, also, as might reasonably have been expected, occasioned several animosities and disputes between the old natives, who reclaimed their properties, and such of the newcomers as remained in the town, and who, depending on the partiality and protection of the existing government, resolved to run all hazards rather than tamely surrender their newly-acquired possessions.

In order to convey a general idea of the feelings by which those contending parties were then agitated, an occurrence which took place between two of the most respectahle of the disputants is here selected as a specimen of the remainder. Robert Martin, of Ross, one of the natives of the town, having obtained an order from the king to be restored to the possession of his mansion-house in Galway, which was then in the occupation of Edward Eyre, the recorder, (and one of the members recently elected to represent the town in the new parliament,) he came to Galway to demand possession, which being refused, complaint was made to the lords justices that the occupant, Mr Eyre, not only refused to obey the king's order, but also declared, "that he denied the king to be the only head or chief governor of the kingdom, and that he did not value his order at eighteen pence."

Upon receiving this information, the lords justices directed the attorney-general to lay it before the commons: the accused member was immediately summoned; and he delivered in a written statement, totally denying the charge, and challenging an immediate investigation.[a] After some further communications and delays, the house at length came to a resolution, that there were no grounds for the complaint, and the recorder, having received some handsome encomiums for his loyalty and integrity to his majesty, was unanimously acquitted.

This injudicious proceeding, on the part of the accusers, proved considerably considerably injurious to the interest of the old proprietors, and equally servicable to the new; for it served not only to prejudice the minds of the lords justices against the former, but also to increase and strengthen the opposition of their opponents; insomuch that, from the previously ruined state of their finances, the resistance and delays now given to their claims, and the consequent heavy expenses attending the prosecution of them, they were in general either defeated, or abandoned in despair, and left unfinished; in consequence of which, very little benefit, as belore observed, was derived from the king's declaration in their favor; and whatever part of their ancient patrimony the descendants of the natives afterwards possessed in the town, was principally obtained by purchase from the new possessors, whose titles, however acquired, had been ratified and indiscriminately confirmed by grants and leases from the crown.[b] They were also continued in all the offices of the corporation; and although several writs of Quo-warranto had been brought against them for exercising jurisdiction as a corporate body, and judgment finally obtained, they still retained their power in the town, through the influence of the duke of Ormond, and were ultimately triumphant over all opposition.

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