John Boyle.

The battle-fields of Ireland, from 1688 to 1691: including Limerick and Athlone, Aughrim and the Boyne online

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Online LibraryJohn BoyleThe battle-fields of Ireland, from 1688 to 1691: including Limerick and Athlone, Aughrim and the Boyne → online text (page 1 of 22)
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Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)

Transcriber's Notes:

- Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

- Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.

- Punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently corrected.


FROM 1688 TO 1691:







"And as they tread the ruined Isle,
Where rest, at length, the lord and slave,
They'll wondering ask, how hands so vile
Could conquer hearts so brave?" MOORE


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867,


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for
the Southern District of New York.


Most of the following chapters were written some time since, at the
request of the publisher, whose intention it was to present the readers
of Irish history with a portable volume, which, while removing the
necessity of wading through many tomes, would give an authentic account
of the two leading events of a very important period, - the battles of
the Boyne and Aughrim.

Having undertaken the task, and performed it to the extent of his
information, it appeared to the writer that, without some allusion to
antecedent causes and intermediate events, the book, though it should
be acceptable to some, would be quite unsatisfactory to others; and it
was concluded to make such interpolation as, without overburdening,
would render the offering more clear and comprehensive.

After collecting much matter bearing on the subject, and finding it
impossible to compress it methodically within the limits assigned, such
selections were made, from historians of every shade of opinion, as
would suffice, without distorting the parts already arranged, to give a
consecutive view of the Jacobite war in Ireland, from its inception to
its close.

As it was almost exclusively a war for religious ascendency on the
one side, and for complete civil and religious liberty on the other,
continually presenting a politico-religious aspect, it was chosen
to leave the ethological bearing to other mediums, and confine this
principally to the leading military events of the time. Hence, no
allusion whatever is made to the interior merits of either faith
dependent on the issue; nor to its exterior action, only so far as to
preserve the order of an unbroken narrative.

Having followed the war down to the battle of Aughrim, inclusive, and
reached the limit prescribed, the writer stops short of the final
event - the last siege of Limerick; and he does so as well from motive
as necessity, for he thinks that event could be more appropriately
connected with a history of "The Brigade." But whether the subject is
ever resumed by him or not, will greatly depend on the reception of
this little volume, which is now submitted to the public.





A Cursory View of England and Ireland anterior to the Accession of
James II 9


The Reign of James II. in England - The Invasion of William, Prince
of Orange. From 1685 to 1688 26


Events preceding Hostilities in Ireland - The preparatory Measures
of Tyrconnel 41


From the Commencement of Hostilities to the Landing of King James
in Ireland 58


The Battle of Cladiford - The Investment of Derry - Proceedings of
Parliament 74


The Battle of Newtown Butler, and the Relief of Enniskillen
and Derry 90


The Landing of Marshal Schomberg, and his Winter Campaign 108


Schomberg's Campaign continued - The Arrival of the Prince
of Orange 112


The Battle of the Boyne 125


Final departure of King James - A Retrospect of his Character 152


The Surrender of Drogheda and Dublin - The First Siege of Athlone 160


The Siege of Limerick 174


The Arrival of the Duke of Marlborough - The Siege of Cork
and Kinsale 193


The Winter of 1690 206


Arrival of St. Ruth - Ginckle takes the field 222


The Siege of Athlone 239


The Interval from July 1st to the 12th 267


The Battle of Aughrim 292




Few monarchs ever ascended the English throne under more unfavorable
auspices than James II. Though he reached it in the order of legitimate
right, it was at a time when the monarchy of England was well-nigh
divested of its most vital prerogatives, and when the voice of the
sovereign had little more weight in the national councils than that
of any ordinarily dissentient member; and to this were superadded
rivalries, jealousies, and hatreds, which having their sources in
remoter times, gathered strength like the rivers, and grew deeper and
darker in their course.

As a representative of Scottish royalty, he inherited many a bitter
memory from Bannockburn to Flodden, and as a descendant of the
unfortunate Mary, he was an object of hatred to the old reform families
of England, with whom her persecutor, Elizabeth, was still a hallowed
memory; he was a grandson of James I., whom neither the acquisition
of a kingdom, nor the confiscation of Ireland, - so grateful to every
English adventurer, - could redeem from national contempt; a son of
Charles I., whom the revolutionary elements evoked in Church and
State by the pedantry of his father, had brought to the scaffold; and
brother to the second Charles, one of the most indolent and dissolute
monarchs that ever disgraced a throne. Through the last three reigns,
the name of Stuart had been a term of distrust or hatred, both to the
High Church party of England, and the fanatics of Scotland; but through
some unaccountable cause, it had one, and only one, abiding-place, - the
heart of Catholic Ireland, - whose people, through every phase of that
dynasty, had experienced nothing but treachery, confiscation, and

Other circumstances, too, though of a domestic nature, tended to
establish the unpopularity of James, and to raise up difficulties in
his road to royalty. In 1671, his wife, the Duchess of York, though
nominally a Protestant, died in communion with the Catholic Church, and
from that time forward he himself made open profession of Catholicity.
Towards the beginning of 1673 he was married to Mary of Modena, a
Catholic, and the daughter of a royal house then in close alliance
with France. The Parliament, which met shortly after, expressed great
indignation at this event, and gave practical effect to its resentment.
A declaration of indulgence which had been issued by Charles in 1671,
granting to dissenters from the High Church the public observance
of their religion, and to Roman Catholics the right to hear Mass in
private houses, was censured, and repealed in its application to the
Catholics. In this session was also passed the "Test Act," which
continued in full legal force down to the reign of George IV., and
which, with some modifications, is virtually observed at the present
day. By the passage of this act, every Catholic official in the realm
was removed, and the Duke of York lost the command of the British navy,
in which he had won high distinction, and which he had brought to a
greater degree of efficiency than it had hitherto known. These and
similar marks of disapprobation were specially meant for James, who was
then heir-presumptive, and showed him the dangers that beset his way
to the throne. He, however, continued on unwavering in his principles,
while every exercise of conscience on his part was met by a check on
the king's prerogative, or a direct censure on himself. But when it
became known, after the demise of Charles, that he, too, had received
the last sacraments at the hands of a Catholic priest, and that James
had been instrumental in the conversion of his reprobate brother, the
rage of the High Church party knew no bounds, and their denunciations
were echoed through every recusant party in the land. Comfort they knew
none; their forbearance was stretched to the utmost tension; their cup
of hatred was filled to the last drop; and even that drop was pendent,
as from a leaf; the next wind might shake the branch, and then - -

But still they had one hope. James was a good round age; as yet he had
no issue male by his Catholic queen; his daughters, by his former wife,
were educated in the Protestant faith, and had each been espoused to
a Protestant prince; and in a few years, the throne would apparently
revert to a Protestant sovereign.

William, Prince of Orange, the husband of the elder, was the ostensible
head of the Protestant Alliance, and a devoted enemy to France. This
was a relief in their present misfortunes, and a little forbearance was
thought better than much blood-letting. The Duke of Monmouth, too, the
natural son of Charles, was a great favorite with a large portion of
the English people, and had even, during the life of his father, struck
for the crown; and though banished the realm for that offence, he was
still a centre to rally round, in case of necessity. These were the
considerations which alleviated the misfortunes of James's enemies, and
made his accession, even for a moment, tolerable.

The reign of James I., commonly called the "Pedant," from his
affectation of learning, his uncouth appearance, and slovenly habits,
was not marked by any act that elevates a people, or adorns a crown.
It was chiefly employed in religious disquisition, which, giving rise
to innumerable sects, greatly disturbed the interior spirit of the
nation. That part of his time not so devoted, was spent in securing to
the reform party the lands, lay and cleric, which had been confiscated
during the reign of his immediate predecessors. But he was never
popular. Though his low garrulity and set apothegms were hailed by the
vile minions by whom he was constantly surrounded, as the sublimation
of wisdom, they never failed to plant a thorn in the breast of the
nobles, and with them he was an object of unmitigated contempt - deeply
felt, but not openly expressed. Still the courtiers and the king got
along pretty well, and each improved after a mutual acquaintance. He
knew their instincts and their passions, and they secured his favor
by sacrificing to his egotism. In them he discovered an inordinate
appetite for plunder, and in him they saw an obtusity of honor, and an
unscrupulousness of conscience, that could be made sure instruments in
securing the spoils of an incomplete reformation. He resolved to cater
to their appetite, and they determined to obey his rule, though they
did not at all reverence his majesty.

The death of Elizabeth had left England in a profound peace, which was
scarcely disturbed during his reign; and this fortuitous circumstance,
more than his innate cowardice, won for him the name of "the peaceful
monarch." He has had many satirists and many eulogists, and some who
were both as occasion answered. Among the latter may be reckoned Sir
Walter Scott, by whom we are told that the restless spirits of the
former reign might calmly enjoy "the peace which James the peaceful
gave." But, then, this was only in poetic _romaunt_, and by one who
greatly despised him in romantic prose. Such eulogiums, however, had
only reference to the influence of his reign on England and Scotland;
the tyranny of an English king towards Ireland had been, in all times,
his surest passport to popularity, and there his reign was one of
terror, vengeance, persecution, and spoliation.

The prince who connived at the murder of his royal mother, could lay
little claim to the respect of the good or high-minded in any age or
nation, and so he lived an object of contempt and loathing to all that
was good or honorable in the land. But though men of honor shunned his
court, the venal there held high jubilee. The king's natural avarice
was keen, and it was still further whetted by Scotch self-seekers, who
thronged lobby and vestibule in all their greedy officiousness. Their
rapacity had to be appeased. The people of England, too, were grown
sullen and discontented; a spiritual madness had lately overspread
the land, and produced a state of society always ominous of evil to
the monarch; hence the public mind should be diverted from its sombre
broodings. To secure himself on the throne, he saw the necessity of
opening a way to the enterprise of the incongruous elements by which
he was surrounded, and many precedents pointed to Ireland as the
never-failing outlet for English discontent.

The latter half of Elizabeth's reign had been disturbed by a series
of revolutions in Ireland. The first of these was headed by the Earl
of Desmond, in defence of religious liberty; it extended all over
Munster, and ended in his death and the confiscation of that province.
Shortly after it was revived by Hugh O'Neil, Earl of Tyrone, and
assuming national proportions, continued with almost unvaried success
to the battle of Kinsale, in 1602, and terminated in a treaty which
was wantonly violated after the queen's death. These wars extended
through a period of more than twenty years, and left Ireland greatly
prostrated on the accession of James I.; but the country was beginning
to revive, and, under a fostering hand, it would soon have been
content and prosperous. It was hoped, too, that as James, while king
of Scotland, had contributed much to foment the uprising of O'Neil, he
would be as instrumental in allaying the causes that led to it. The
English "Undertakers," however, looked on an Irish war as a prelude to
a general confiscation, and felt bitter disappointment at the terms
accorded to the Irish rebels by the late queen. The apportionment of
one province, which took place after the death of Desmond, did not
satisfy them, while Ulster, a wealthy and populous one, was still left
in the possession of the natives. The Scotch followers of James could
not understand the thing at all, and attributed it to the dotage of
the queen. In this state of affairs, the king saw an opportunity of
rendering himself acceptable alike to his English and Scotch subjects.
It was an age fruitful in plots and expedients, when plunder took
the name of civilization, and avarice stalked forth under the cloak
of religion. "The artful Cecil," the contriver and discoverer of
many plots, was consulted by the king, and a scheme was laid for the
violation of the compact of Mellifont, and the confiscation of Ulster.
Lord Chichester was then deputy for Ireland; - but the words of Dr.
Jones, the king's bishop of Meath, will tell the matter with sufficient
brevity:[1] "Anno 1607, there was a providential discovery of another
rebellion in Ireland, the Lord Chichester being deputy; _the discoverer
not being willing to appear_, a letter from him, _not subscribed_, was
superscribed to Sir William Usher, clerk of the council, and dropt in
the council-chamber, then held in Dublin Castle, in which was mentioned
a design for seizing the Castle and murdering the deputy, with a
general revolt and dependence on Spanish forces; and this also for
religion; for particulars whereof I refer to that letter, dated March
the 19th, 1607." - This letter was read, and O'Neil, the late leader
of the Irish, was singled out as the head and front of the supposed

O'Neil, who had been educated at the English court with a view to
the advancement of the English interest in Ireland, was apprised
of the conspiracy designed for his ruin, and at once detected the
master-spirit - "The artful Cecil." From this he knew that his doom was
sealed should he abide the action of the council, before which he had
been summoned. He accordingly notified the chiefs of Ulster of the
impending blow, and advised flight as the only means of safety. Most of
them followed this advice, and he himself, collecting his household,
retired to Rome, where he died in 1616.

The flight of O'Neil accomplished all that the conspirators wished, and
with far less trouble than they anticipated. Wholesale confiscation,
without resistance, was out of their calculation, even in a country
borne down by the protracted strife of nearly twenty years. There
still remained an element in Ulster, which, though it could not
work the deliverance of the nation, could wreak summary vengeance
on many a hungry Undertaker; but this settled all at once, to the
great "joyousness" of the king: and he lost no time in proclaiming
his satisfaction, in words of which the following is an extract: "Wee
doe professe, that it is both known to us and our council here, and
to our deputie and state there, and so shall it appeare to the world
(as cleare as the sunne) by evident proofes, that the only ground and
motive of this high contempt, in these men's departure, hath been the
private knowledge and inward terrour of their own guiltinesse," etc.
"But," says Mitchell, "no attempt to give these proofs was ever made,"
and never will be. The very manner of their departure is a proof of
innocence. Had there been a conspiracy, they would have abided the
result, and sold their lives with their lands at a price dear enough
to the English enemy. But they went in the belief that their lives
and lands alone were what the king sought, and that by quitting the
country, they would save the minor chieftains and their clansmen from
the greed of England. They calculated erroneously, for this did not
accord with the design of the infamous king, and the whole province
soon became the spoil of the "Undertakers." An act of Parliament - the
English Parliament - immediately followed the king's proclamation,
declaring that "Whereas the divine justice hath lately cast out of
the province of Ulster divers wicked and ungratefull traytors, who
practised to interrupt those blessed courses begun and continued by
your majestie for the general good of this whole realm, by whose
defection and attainders great scopes of land in those parts have been
reduced to your majestie's hands and possession," etc. - and of course
awaited but the royal pleasure to be transferred to his loyal subjects
of the realm. Nor was the royal assent long withheld, for the royal
coffers were always open, even to smaller windfalls than the revenues
arising from a confiscated province.

The work of settlement was soon commenced, under the supervision of the
king, privy council, committees of conference, committees of inquiry,
contractors, undertakers, speculators, and commissioners names of
ominous import in Ireland and so often revived there that her people
can rehearse them like a catechism. "In the six counties of Donegal,
Tyrone, Derry, Farmanagh, Cavan, and Armagh, a tract of country
containing 500,000 acres, was seized upon by the king and parcelled
out in lots to Undertakers."[2] The "domains" of the attainted lords
were assumed to include all the lands inhabited by their clans, and so
far were the king's new arrangements from respecting the rights of the
ancient natives, that "the fundamental ground of this _plantation_ was
the avoiding of natives and planting only with British."

That this cruel policy was carried out to the letter, would seem
scarcely credible. But let the authority already quoted settle that
matter. "It is true," says Sir Thomas Phillips, in "Harris's Hibernia,"
"that after the prescribed number of freeholders and leaseholders were
settled on every townland, and the rents therein set down, _they might
let the remainder to natives, for lives, so as they were conformable in
religion, and for the favor_ to DOUBLE THEIR RENTS!" Even so,
to double their rents, if natives, though conformable in religion. A
_high favor_, and all for the love of God!

This is but a very imperfect outline of the plantation of Ulster, and
the manner of effecting it; and it is alluded to in these pages, only
in so far as it illustrates the subject-matter of them, on which that
settlement has a direct bearing. Its immediate and subsequent effects
on the Irish race, though the theme of many a commentator, have never
been told, and never will be. Even its remoter consequence at the
present day can scarcely be alluded to without opening up wounds but
imperfectly healed, and memories too bitter for wholesome reflection.
It renewed, by one dash of the royal pen, all the wrongs of the
preceding centuries, and filled the last stronghold of the Irish race
with a people inimical to their interests, and who, with the exception
of one short epoch in the country's history, have remained a cancer
on the body politic, and, as if by a special providence, though meant
to strengthen the dynasty of the Stuarts, were mainly instrumental in
causing its extinction.

The reign of Charles I. was an eventful and a bloody one. In 1625 he
ascended the throne; in 1649 he ascended the scaffold; and through the
intervening period of twenty-four years, it was a continual struggle
for the preservation of the royal prerogatives. These prerogatives were
yielded, one by one, to the fanatical spirit of the age, and the last
royal prerogative, that of life - for it is held a standing apothegm,
that the king can do no wrong - terminated in a disastrous civil war
which drenched the three kingdoms in blood.

England had been in a state of transition since the reign of Henry
VIII. The religion of the country had undergone a change which had
left more than one-half of its population - and that the more powerful
one - adherents of the new faith. New manners and new morals had kept
pace with the change of religion. The lands, too, had undergone as
great a change as the people. Most of the old manors were possessed by
new lords; and as for the Church, its glebes had passed to the early
conformists, and its cash to the royal coffers. Hatred on the one hand,
and revenge on the other, the usual concomitants of all violent changes
in civil or ecclesiastical bodies, were the order of the day. Among
those who had become recipients of the spoils, a feeling of insecurity
was predominant. These changes had all been wrought through the will of
the sovereigns - the royal prerogative, and it required no prophetic ken
to know, that while that prerogative remained unimpaired, some future
sovereign might undo all that his predecessors had accomplished; and
this continual apprehension was the parent of each successive reform:
and self-preservation the object.

The reign of James I. sowed the seed of religious discontent; that
of Charles I. reaped the harvest. The old faith had been too closely
drawn towards the political arena, and had suffered by the contact;
the new one whirled in its vortex, and the result was the worst state
of human society - civil and religious anarchy. A church had been
established by law, and richly endowed by the spoils of the old one,
antecedent to the accession of Charles, and its followers were called
the "High Church" people. But outside its communion, innumerable sects
overspread the land, known by the general name of "Nonconformists."
The highways and by-ways of England and Scotland resounded with their
religious disquisitions; every man had become an interpreter and a
prophet. The most powerful of those sects were the Puritans of England,

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Online LibraryJohn BoyleThe battle-fields of Ireland, from 1688 to 1691: including Limerick and Athlone, Aughrim and the Boyne → online text (page 1 of 22)