H. D. (Henry Duff) Traill.

Social England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) online

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Online LibraryH. D. (Henry Duff) TraillSocial England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) → online text (page 36 of 68)
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aspirate), who now sells dispensations, " though he frae nolt
(cattle) had ta'en new leave. He plays with totum and I
with nichell" (nihil).

The " Ledger of Andrew Halyburton " (1492-1503), Con- Trade
servator of Scottish Customs at Veere, near Middelburg in anc
Flanders/ not only shows us the everyday business of a com-
mission merchant, but throws a flood of light on the social
life of the time. His customers are rich prelates and solid
burgesses in Leith, Dundee, and Aberdeen, who consign to him
for sale wool, hides,, fur, and salmon. The same ships come
and go, and the shipmasters have such notable names as Barton
and Wood. The ships, too, are roomy, for the abbots some-
times bring their horses with them when they are to travel
in Flanders. Money in coin neither comes nor goes except
when the churchmen send to Rome for benefices and dis-
pensations of marriage within the forbidden degrees; or when,
on one occasion, Halyburton transmits a sum through England
to purchase pearls in Scotland. When any of his corre-
spondents come over he supplies them with money for personal
expenses. The Archdeacon of St. Andrews and his train stay
with Halyburton, and their reckoning is entered in the
" Ledger." The son of another correspondent takes a pleasure
trip to Flanders, bringing with him a pack of cloth to pay
expenses, among which we have an item for hair-cutting
and a large outlay for fine clothes. Cloth in very small
quantities, such as Peebles white, and again a parcel to be
returned dyed, along with a little salt, are the only evidence
of the export of any Scotch manufacture. Of the wool some
fleeces come in a rotten condition, and of the salmon a
barrel now and again turns out sour. The goods thus sent

[ a Where Scottish merchants were established, with very brief inter-
missions, from 1444 till all special privileges of corporate bodies were abolished
under the Batavian Republic in 1795.]


are disposed of at the fairs of Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp,
or to itinerant traders, the commission being included in the
item for oncosts. The proceeds are laid out in a miscel-
laneous assortment, packed in bales and barrels, known as
/"///* ^nd rondals. The entries are full of human interest.
Here we have the life within the great cloisters, now lying
in shapeless ruin, the rich robes and altar-cloths, the chalices,
the images, and even altar-tombs. Abbots get puncheons of
claret with sugar and comfits for their mulled possets. Some
pay the expenses of their sons in Flanders. The Archdeacon
of St. Andrews gets tiles and a mat for his chamber floor.
A few parcels of books appear. Soap, candles, dyes tuft's, and
vinegar and cloth are sent, but no tools. Iron is represented
only by andirons to support the great fire-logs. Bishop
Elphinstone of Aberdeen has to send his watch to Flanders
to be fitted with a new case. Halyburton reverently heads
each account with the name Jhesus. Occasionally he has an
entry for " licoris at the selling." He is on good terms with
all his customers except his brother-in-law, on whose conduct
he animadverts in severe terms. " As for the rest of the
Scots money, he payit me wi' challenges [reproaches] and
evill wordis and onsufferabyll. God keip all guid men fra
sic callandis [fellows] ! "

TfIE customs anc ^ social life of the Irish people, as described by
England, Giraldus Cambrensis, and other writers, both native and
English, grew up in remote times, and were maintained with
no very great change for at least four centuries after the
Anglo-Xornian invasion.

\\ e know that Ireland was anciently pre-eminent for her
schools and colleges, and that her scholars and missionaries
greatly helped to spread learning and religion all over England
and the Continent. Through wars and tumults the ancient
love of learning survived, and the schools struggled on and
maintained their existence to comparatively recent times,
though fallen from their ancient greatness. In the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, flourishing schools, both
general and professional for Law, Medicine, History, Literature,
Classics, Poetry were kept in various parts of the country

IRELAND AND ENGLAND, 1169-1558. 399

by the families of O'Clery, O'Coffey, MacEgan, and others.
These were all private schools with no state aid.

One of the results of the general spread of literature was
the production of books. Good scribes were held in much
honour ; and to make a copy of a book was justly considered
a very meritorious work. The native scribes wrote into their
books everything they thought worth preserving ; and libraries
grew up in monasteries, colleges, and private houses. Though
most of these collections were scattered and destroyed in troubled

Photo: IT. Latn'fnt'i', Dublin.

times, great numbers of the old books are still preserved in Dublin
and elsewhere, of all ages, from the fifth or sixth century down.
Most are in the Irish language ; but there is a good deal of
Latin. The practice of transcribing continued down to a late
period ; and several of the largest and most important of the
manuscript volumes still in existence were written from the
fourteenth to the seventeenth century. The books contain
pieces on every conceivable subject annals, history, biography,
romance, law, medicine, science, etc. In some cases, one book,
usually small, is devoted to one special subject. But most of
the large volumes are miscellaneous collections, such as the
"Book of Leinster," a huge folio of about 1,000 pieces on



The Brehon

various subjects, containing about six times as much matter
us "Hob Hoy." .Many of the romantic stories are founded
on history, and are in the main true but embellished with
fiction like the modern historical novel. The Annals are
among the most important of the Irish writing's for the
elucidation of Irish history ; for the annalists were most careful
about the truth of what they recorded. There are many

collections of Irish annals,
mostly in the native
tongue, with a mixture
of Latin.

A native code of law,
very extensive and minute
in detail, gradual])' givw
up in Ireland, and con-
tinued in force till the
beginning of the seven-
teenth century. It was ad-
ministered by Er<'li<nix or
judges specially trained ;
and hence it is commonly
known as the Brehon law.
There were collections of
the laws in books, all in
the Irish language, many
of which have come down
to us, and several have
been translated and pub-


(Triniti/ Colh'fif, DuWin.)

lished. In accordance
with the Brehon Code,
all injuries to person or

property, including homicide, were atoned for as anciently
among the Anglo-Saxons, Franks, Germans, and Greeks
by a compensation payment ; the amount was determined
by the Brehon who tried the case. Payment for homicide
or personal injury of any kind was called Eric. The
Brehon law did not prescribe capital punishment. Every
Irish king kept a brehon among his household to manage
his legal affairs. "\Yhen the colonists began to adopt Irish
customs (p. 410 infra), they adopted also the Brehon law;



and many of the Anglo-Irish nobility kept brehons like the
Irish kings.

As in all early stages of Aryan society, the clan system pre- structure
vailed; and it continued to a recent period. The people were formed c
into groups of various sizes families, clans or septs, and tribes.
The tribe was made up of several clans ; the clan of several
families. Clans and tribes were supposed to be descended from
common parents ; but this was in great measure a fiction, as
adoption of strangers was common in all the groups. Tribes and

'V ^""

i'lipel arnoHCEs oaoigrmm yinnuin so^aiame
)1S pi'homiin 1nc t?ii roe ^rituioeui;oiffnTftx

summi K
oeoic dinnm ewri0Ltni

- ' 1 - : nii^n.-ii.^fU-^- .

^TTnjpui; pachp m

'LV '.v",

Tniiceno mat^o rtit
2soimuafi.e GC^ inn 550 geneuabilis


(Trinity College, Dublin.)

clans were governed by chiefs ; the chiefs of the clans forming
a tribe were subject and tributary to the chief of the tribe.
The chief of a very large tribe was a ri (ree) or king ; there
were many of these urrees or sub-kings. The chiefs or kings
of tribes owed allegiance to the kings of their several provinces,
of which there were five : Leinster, Ulster, Connaught, Munster,
and Meath. The provincial kings, again, owed allegiance at
least nominally to the Ard-ri or over-king, i.e. the king of
all Ireland; but after 1172 there was no over-king. In each
clan, tribe, or kingdom, there was a ruling family from which




the king or chief should bo chosen ; but with this limitation
the office was elective. The king or chief had a tract of land
assigned to him for his support; and besides this source of
revenue, each tribesman paid him subsidies of several kings.

l'li,,l,:: Yuri; ,( .-'tin, Xnttii><i Hill,

Spenser has a curious description of the ceremonies of
inauguration as he saw them in the time of Elizabeth, agree-
ing with the native accounts.

The land occupied bv the tribe was held in several ways.
Each sept of the tribe was confined to a particular portion.

t r


(/Wusewm o/ t/ie Royal Irish Academy, Dublin.)

\'l'nfiii-f t i. in'.'.


St. Kevin's Blackbird.

An Irish Harpist.

A Coracle.

Woman on Horseback.

Inauguration of a King.



The Land A part of the land was owned as private property. The chief,
system. w hether of the sept or of the tribe, had a inciisal estate for
life. All the rest of the arable land, forming by far the greatest
part, was "Tribe-land" that is to say, owned by the tribes-
nit MI in common. Every member had a right to a share ; but
the tribe-land of the sept was liable to redistribution from time
to time, under the following custom : When a tenant who
held a part of the tribe-land died, his farm did not go to his
children, but all the tribe-land belonging to the sept (excluding
inensal land and private property) was re-divided among all
the male adult members of the sept, including the dead man's
sons. This was called Gavelkind a custom which was for-
merly common all over Europe, and which, in a modified form,
still exists in Kent. The non-arable land mountain, bog,
forest called " Commons " land was not appropriated by in-
dividuals; but all had a right to the use of it. Land de-
scended in three ways: First, as private property, in the usual
way, from parents to children ; second, by Tam'stry, i.e. the
mensal land held by a king or chief went to his successor,
not to his heir ; third by Gavelkind, as already explained. The
Irish land customs were abolished by James I.

Certain free tenants of a low grade Avere bound, along with
the ordinary subsidies, to give Coinmed or Coy-ney to the chief
that is, the chief was privileged to go Avith his followers at
certain seasons to the house of the tenant, Avho had to supply
the company with food and drink. Number, time, and food
Avere regulated by law in each case. The Anglo-Irish lords
imitated and abused this custom by what came to be called
"Coyne and Livery," which Avas this: A military leader sent
his soldiers with arms in their hands among the colonists
(seldom among the native Irish) to exact their own pay in
money and food. They Avere under hardly any restraint of
laAV, custom, or discipline, and often committed fearful crimes.
The native Irish custom Avas bad, but this Avas ten times
worse ; and the Anglo-Irish lords practised it for centuries, not-
Avithstanding many Acts of Parliament against it.

The leading Anglo-Irish chiefs all through the country lived
during this period, as Avell as since the invasion, in strongly for-
tified stone castles. Each castle Avas surrounded by a bawn,
a large space enclosed by a stone Avail. Within this lived the

Rights of
the Chief.



servants and immediate
hold in thatched houses
inside ; and the bawn
purposes games and
cattle at night, etc.
generally adopted the
gradually abandoned
earthen forts and
in some cases, even in
we find them using

retainers of the house- Home Life,
ranged round the wall
was used for other
exercises, sheltering
The Irish chiefs very
same custom, having
their old circular
wooden dwellings. But
the time of Elizabeth,
the old crannoys

stockaded dwellings on
lakes or marshes,
the reign of Elizabeth,
the peasantry, crushed
pestilence, driven from
lost all their little
where they could, on
became what were sub-
tenants at will, paid
a state of great misery,
other early English
condition of such
that of bond slaves,
independent and lived
In accordance with
a man sent his child to
in the home and with
member of the tribe,
the closest tie of
families, was very
to be practised till
a person standing
child at baptism was
Anglo - Irish adopted


(Museum of the Eoiiul

Irish Academy, Dublin.)

(.Photo: H'. Gr. Moore,


artificial islands in
the whole of
a large proportion of
by war, famine, and
their homes, and having
property, settled down
mere sufferance, and
sequently known as
rack-rents, and lived in
Spenser, Davies, and
writers, describe the
tenants as worse than
But others were more
the custom of Fosterage,
be reared and educated
the family of another
Fosterage, which was
friendship between
common, and continued
recent times. Gossipred
sponsor for a friend's
also very general. The
both customs, and





fostered and gossiped with the natives in spite of severe Acts of

Attached to the household of every Irish chief were a
harper, a bard or rhymer, and a Sim n<tdi ><> or historian, who
were much respected and well paid for their services. The
Anglo-Irish nobility almost universally adopted the same cus-
tom : in 1534, when young Lord Thomas Fitzgerald "Silken
Thomas " flung clown his state sword and renounced allegiance
to Henry YIIL, he had in his train an Irish bard who stimulated
him in his mad career. Bards, shanachies, and harpers Avere


Photo: If. Ilnll^rn, Cloiniul.

always present "at banquets and on festive occasions of every
kind, to instruct and amuse the family and guests. The harper
played the exquisite Irish airs, or the bard recited his poetry
or the shanachie commemorated the ancestors of the chief, or
recited some romantic tale of old times ; and if they acquitted
themselves well, the company listened with rapt attention, and
rewarded them with valuable presents. In the time of Eliza-
beth severe laws were passed against bards and shanachies.

The Irish did not much use cavalry. They had two kinds
of foot-soldiers. The Galloglasses, who are described as large-
limbed, tall, and fierce-looking, were heavily armed with long
sword, mail, iron helmet, and broad battleaxe. The Irish



adopted the use of armour chiefly from the English ; but they
never took well to it, preferring to fight in their saffron tunics,
which lost them many a battle. The Galloglasses were cele-
brated by English writers for the dexterity and skill with

Photo: If. G. Muuiv, Dublin.

(Museum of the Koyal Irish Amilvnuj, Vulilui.)

which they used the axe in battle. The Kern were light-armed
footmen, who fought with a skean, or sharp-edged dagger, and
a javelin. Kern and Galloglasses figure much in the Irish
wars of Elizabeth. The best defence of the Irish was the




nature of the country full of bogs and (|u;igmircs, and covered

with impenetrable forests, which abounded everywhere d<>wn

to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; and their most

effective strategy, which they often

used Avith success, was to hang on

the skirts of a hostile army on

inarch, attacking and slaying when

>pportunity offered, and when pressed,

retiring to their fastnesses with the

swiftness of stags.

As to dress, the men wore a large
frieze mantle or overall, which covered
them to the ankles, tight -fitting
trousers, and a cone-shaped hat with-
out leaf. The women wore ample
flowing tunics of saffron colour ;
matrons had a kerchief on the head,
unmarried girls went bare-headed.

History. In the years 1169 and 1170 a number of Cambro-Norman

adventurers, under the chief leadership of Earl Richard de
Clare, commonly known as Strongbow, sailing from Wales,
landed in Wexford, took Dublin, Waterford, Wexford, and
other towns, and formed settlements in the country. King
Henry II. came over in 1171 ; and having taken possession of
the conquered towns and territories, he went through the form
of receiving the submission of the Irish kings, and of annexing

the whole country in 1172. But
the submission and annexation
were purely fictitious. Colonists
continued to arrive, and the settle-
ment extended, the Irish kings, on
account of their own dissensions,
not yet offering any very serious
resistance. King John, visiting in
1210 with a great army, parcelled
out that part of the country under

English jurisdiction into twelve counties, in which English
law was to be administered.

[ l This and the three following- figures are from the Book of Kells. and are
inserted by the permission of the Provost and Fellows of Trinity College. Dublin.]





The people of Ireland, heartily sick of anarchy, would at
this time have welcomed any strong government able and willing
to protect them : and with proper management might have

been brought, in a reasonable time, to settle
down under the authority of the English
kings. But the mistaken policy initiated by
Henry II., and carried out by subsequent
kings and governments, prevented all this.
The force employed was just sufficient to
keep the country in perpetual turmoil, but
never sufficient for conquest. The Anglo-
Irish barons were allowed too much power,
and carried on continual wars both against
each other and against the natives ; and no
central government was maintained in the
country strong enough to curb them. But
the most fatal and disastrous mistake of all was this. The
government, instead of treating the natives as subjects, per-
sisted from the beginning in designating and treating them as
" Irish enemies " not to be governed and cared for, but to be
kept at arm's length or exterminated. This perverse and
wholly unnecessary policy vitiated the relations of England
with Ireland then and to all subsequent time, and brought
endless disaster and woe to both
natives and colonists. For the natives,
who might have been made good
subjects by moderate and prudent
treatment, had to fight for their
lives ; and, bad as was the state of
the country before the arrival of
the Anglo-Normans, it was infinitely
worse after. As a direct consequence
oi this wholesale mismanagement, it
took more than four centuries, with
incalculable loss of blood and trea-
sure, to accomplish the conquest of
Ireland. All this was pointed out

three centuries ago by a fair-minded and very able Englishman,
Sir John Davies.

The English kings governed the colony through local rulers



The Eng resident in Dublin, who from time to time Avere designated

lish Rule. . , , l i

by various titles, such as governor, viceroy, lord-justice or

justiciary, lieutenant, lord-lieutenant, deputy or lord-deputy
these two last when the person governed for an absent viceroy.
Soon after the time of King John, the native Irish, taking
advantage of the dissensions of the barons, began to recover
the lands that had been taken from them ; the settlement
grew gradually feebler and the territory smaller: and the
colonists, so far from extending their conquests, had to tight,
for existence. A whole century of turmoil was brought to a
climax by the invasion of Edward Bruce, Avho, in l'U5, came
over with a Scottish army at the invitation of the Ulster
chiefs, to crush the English and make himself king of Ireland.
He traversed the country in different directions for three and
a half years, during which Ireland, or a great part of it, was
a sort of pandemonium ; and after defeating the English in
eighteen successive battles without a reverse, he was himself
defeated and slain at Faughart, near Dundalk, in 1318. Though
his expedition failed, it shook the English power to its foun-
dation almost destroyed it and weakened and demoralised


the government for centuries.
The im- The colonists dispersed through the country, and the

migrants descendants of colonists, had all along shown a decided tendencv

Hiberm- .

cised. to intermarry with the natives and to become incorporated with

them. Soon after Bruce's invasion this movement became
almost universal, from a two-fold cause. First, there was a
general uprising of the Irish: and the colonists, seeing them
prevail everywhere (except roimd Dublin), joined them for mere
safety and protection. Secondly, the government turned the
colonists into enemies by unwise treatment. A distinction
had all along been made between New English and Old English
English by birth and English by blood; and Englishmen got
all the valuable situations and were placed over the heads of the
older colonists, whom they despised and insulted. The colonists
were, as it were, driven into the arms of the natives by the
mischievous policy of the government. They adopted the
Irish language, dress, and customs, till at last they became,
in the complaining language of an English writer, 77 /'/<,/// /'^/rx
IIUx'Tiii* /y>.s-/x more Irish than the Irish themselves. These
were called "Degenerate English" by the loyalist people, who


hated them even more than they did
the natives ; and their hate was repaid
by hate with equal bitterness. To such
an extent was this estrangement driven
that, later on, some of the Anglo-Irish
lords were among the most dangerous

o O

rebels against the government.

While the Brehon law prevailed
among the native Irish, the colonists
lived under English law. But English


] aw fa\ not exte nd to the Irish people :

... . . . \

so that an Englishman might injure or
even murder a " mere Irishman " with impunity : there was no

redress. In the


of Edward I., and again in that of


(,!/ us/: inn of the Royal Irish Am/h-uiy, Ihiljiit.)

Edward III, the Irish petitioned to be relieved from this
intolerable hardship by being placed under English law; but
the petition which these
two great kings would
have granted if left to
themselves was refused
in both cases, chiefly
through the malign in-
fluence of the selfish
Anglo-Irish barons, whose
interest it was to keep
the country embroiled,
and to whom the kings




Statute of

The Irish

The miseries of the people, both colonists and natives, in-
creased and multiplied as time went on. During the whole of
the fourteenth century there were wars, famines, and malignant
plagues, and the colony seemed threatened with extinction. At
last King Edward III. sent over his son Lionel, afterwards Duke
of Clarence, as lord-lieutenant, to settle matters. This prince
had an insane hatred of native Irish as Avell as of Anglo-Irish.
He seems to have believed that all the evils arose from the ever-
increasing intercourse of the two races ; and his great remedy
was the Statute of Kilkenny, passed in 1307, the main object
of which was to prevent all intercourse between them, and all
adoption of Irish customs by the English. It was an attempt
to separate Irish and English completely and for evermore. But
this mischievous Act was found impossible to carry out
for human nature proved stronger than laAv ; and after a time
it became a dead letter.

Richard II. visited Ireland twice in 1394 and 1399 with an
army of about 34,000 each time, spending immense sums for
nothing, for he effected no permanent good. He was harassed

Online LibraryH. D. (Henry Duff) TraillSocial England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) → online text (page 36 of 68)